Grammar is an important element of learning a language, along with vocabulary, pronunciation and communication skills. Without grammar, we cannot communicate clearly and accurately.
Grammar for communication
Many course books have a strong focus on communication. Learning grammar is a part of that, and it can help your child use the language more effectively. In the end, the most important thing is not what you know about the language, but what you can do with it. We should tell our children that understanding grammar will make them better communicators.
Making it meaningful
One of the problems with grammar is that children can find it difficult and boring. Often, it is the idea of learning grammar that children do not like.
The secret to teaching and learning grammar is to make it meaningful. That means providing a context – a way to make it interesting. Children will never like or understand grammar if the sentences they are looking at are not relevant or meaningful. When you talk about grammatical structures with your child, ask them about the situations in which they would use it – you can then think of similar situations that would require the same grammar in order for them to try and make up a sentence.
The names of the tenses
Here is a simple guide for you, showing the different forms of the most basic tenses – and what the tenses are called. When your child asks about the past continuous, this will help you know what they mean.
Simple Grammar Reference (PDF, 32KB)
Look for opportunities to practise particular tenses. If your child is studying the future with going to, look for opportunities to ask your child to tell you in English what they are going to do tomorrow. Or, after a day at school, see if you both can make say sentences about what you did today.
Past simple verbs
There are many irregular verbs in English, and learning the past simple forms can be a challenge. Here is a chart of irregular verbs in English. There is also a sheet of cards for 24 verbs, for you and your child to play Pelmanism. Cut out the cards, turn them over, mix them up and try to find pairs (a present tense and past tense form of the same verb).
Irregular Verbs (PDF, 29KB)
Irregular Verb Pairs (PDF, 29KB)