I’ve been teaching
English for more than 42 years at various language programs.
I’ve been teaching English at AUCA since August as a full time
instructor of the Preparatory Program to conduct TOEFL, EAP,
Grammar, Composition to the yearly learners of the program and
most of my learners usually pass the exams in March on the first
try with the score enough to enter the programs they choose.
I’ve also been
performing advising duties. Before teaching at AUCA I taught
English having various positions: an English language
instructor, English language Senior instructor of the Highest
category, methodology specialist, Vice-Principal at different
periods of time. I also had my teaching position of Assistant
Professor to teach EAP and Business English for Law, Finance and
Computer Science majors at International University in
My approach in teaching
English intensively focuses on the importance of structuring and
systematizing learners’ knowledge, especially its grammar
system. I am dependent on a series of tables for this purpose.
They are intended to be distributed by the instructor for
inclusion in the Grammar Reference Portfolios.
The article is targeted
to students and teachers of foreign languages, especially those
dealing with preparation low level English knowledge students
for the TOEFL exam. My article as it is does not offer any
innovations, but the focus is how to use teaching tools as
students’ portfolios in drilling the language skills, particular
The goal of using grammar blocks and charts
is to provide learners of the preparatory program with a number
of opportunities to be confident, comfortable, and skilled
during their studies at prep program. My students always needed
to have some ways to organize their knowledge in a short time
frame. I was busy deliberating and adjusting my own intensive
English language teaching course based on the use of a wide
variety of tools aimed at a speedy acquisition and practical
usage of the English language.
Additionally, the standard English language
knowledge proficiency level of my learners, who are primarily
high school students, has recently fallen down and keeps
decreasing. However, the overall goal of the preparatory program
has remained the same: to ensure successful passing of the TOEFL
test and subsequent enrollment in AUCA. The combination of these
factors has inspired me to find a creative solution to this
The solution is found in an attempt to create
a systematic organization of the language structure (grammar) in
the form of Grammar Reference Portfolio compiled by the learners
from the handouts received during class sessions. The rationale
behind this approach is the need for students to be able to
learn on their own, beyond the classroom. My role of a teacher
is not to simply teach the language but to teach them how to
learn, independently and continuously with the focus on
To facilitate the learning process, for each
student I prepare sets of handouts using the information from
various printed, online, and my own resources. Students begin
their portfolios from the first lesson when the initial handouts
are presented and adequate practice has been offered. The
students collect the handouts and use them when they need to
look up a grammar construction to support their learning. This
support is used in all of their classes: TOEFL, English for
Academic Purposes, and Writing.
The driving principle of this method is to
teach intensively is presentation of what I call “building
grammar blocks of the language”.
Each block is presented from the whole
(uncomplicated, simple) to the parts (more complex). The blocks
are organized in such a way as to recycle the material and
accumulate it as a snowball.
My method of teaching
embraces 11 blocks.
The first block includes the phonetic
alphabet and rules of reading to build a strong foundation for
independent study when students can learn a new language without
the help of the instructor.
The second block embraces Parts of the
English Sentence where students learn about word order and parts
of speech. The material is presented in charts and tables and
further practices is accomplished through drill exercises in
textbooks. The order of presentation is the following:
Nouns, Classes of Nouns, and Parts of Speech that define
nouns: possessive pronouns, demonstratives, articles.
Adjectives, Degrees of Comparison
Pronouns, Cases of Personal Pronouns, Indefinite
Numerals, Cardinal and Ordinal
Articles, Indefinite, Definite, Zero
Adverbs, Degrees of Comparison
Prepositions and Conjunctions
The third block is dealing with aspects of
English predicates (Verbs in some Grammar textbooks).
The fourth block presents Voice and Moods –
Active, Passive, Imperative, and Subjunctive.
The fifth block is about modals – modal verbs
and their equivalents in common usage and supposition. For
example, the modal verb “must” in its common usage is presented
with meanings of duty, obligation, necessity, order, prohibition
and its equivalents “to have to + V” and “to be to + V.”
However, in its supposition meaning, the verb “must” is used to
express a high degree of assurance; for example, They must be
swimming now; we can hear them splashing in the swimming
The sixth block introduces the types of
English sentences: simple, compound, and complex.
The seventh block presents complex on
clauses, including only adverb clauses, object clause, and
sequence of tenses as it is closely related to object clause.
The eighth block deals with reported speech
for requests and orders, reported statements, and reported
Block Nine introduces the non-finite forms of
the English verbs: the Infinitive, Participles I and II, and the
Gerund. Block Ten explains the rules of Complex Object and
Complex Subject. Finally, in the eleventh block the students
learn about subjunctive mood, in conditional clauses in
particular, with explanations of types of conditions: condition
0, 1, 2, 3 and mixed condition.
The regular practice of my personally
developed English language teaching program is based on two
language teaching methodological philosophies:
From the whole to the parts
From the simplicity to the complexity
These two foundational principles are applied
to all the eleven grammar blocks that are considered in this
article. All the grammar blocks are depicted in different charts
to present the material from the whole to the parts, from the
simplest to the most complex after which the subject matter is
practised in the grammar reference books required for the
learners, mainly Understanding and Using English Grammar
by Azar B. and Delta’s Key to the TOEFL test. The charts are
given as handouts during the initial presentation of the
material, and students file them as parts of the portfolio to
use as reference material.
As an example to illustrate the use of
grammar blocks you can see the grammar block “Non-Finite Forms
of the English Verbs” in charts aimed to speedy up gives
possibilities the mastery of one of the most complicated grammar
concepts enable to use different forms of English infinities,
participles I and II, and gerund.
The goal of this article is not only the
demonstrate the entire list of all activities that support the
charts and tables necessary to increase the four basic skills:
listening, speaking, reading and writing, but also to build the
grammar reference portfolio by students based on the following
General introduction of the grammar material
Initial practice of the new structure in various
Additional practice to help internalize the structure
Use as reference material for independent study
The scope of this article does not allow the
teacher to demonstrate all the charts and tables included in the
student portfolios, but it is aimed to introduce the intensive
teaching of the English language with the purpose to improve
considerably students’ knowledge of the English Language from
elementary to upper-intermediate level for one academic year.
Embree, J.A. (1996). Practical English
grammar: A Sentence-To-Paragraph Approach. Mayfield
Thomson, A.J. (1978). A practical English
grammar. Macmillan Publishing Company.
Willing, K. (1989). Teaching how to learn:
Learning strategies in ESL. Macquarie University.
Swan, M. (1984). Practical English usage.
Moscow Vyssaja Skola.
Fuchs, Marjorie. (1998). Focus on grammar:
Beginning workbook. Oxford University Press.
Kachalova, K.N., Israilevich, E.E. (1996).
English grammar. Moscow
Azar, B.S. (2000). Understanding and Using
English Grammar. Longman: Pearson Education.