Working with Grammar: Identified Procedures 

Dec 30, 2012

Here is the procedure for working with the TA Grammar, which I used in my practice and which worked for me. You will see that some steps are more justified than others. This is because some of them are still not that much clear for me yet. In any case, I hope this

0) Inform students about the TA approach.

If you only start working with the TA, tell your students about a new way of working that they are going to experience, mention the reasons for using a new approach. It will allow you to position yourself as a thinking teacher and make students see the reasons for a new way of working which they will be experiencing. 

a) Entry test

Reason: Before working with a new topic we need to find out if we have any problems with this topic and really need to work with.

b) Checking the test

Reason: Since the result is so poor (less than 75% of correct answers), it is evident that we have problems and must work on this topic.

c) Skipped sorting. The teacher has to be clear about the aim of this task before giving it. Since the aim was not clear for me (when working with modal verbs) I kept skipping sorting.

d) Formulating the aim in writing: filling in the table

Reason: Before we start learning something new, let’s try to sum up what we already know and what we still want to find out. You have 2 minutes to fill in the first two columns of the table. The third column we’ll be filling in gradually while making new discoveries.


I know 

I don't know/I doubt

My aim...

I have learnt

e) Sharing what we know and aim

f) Answering concept questions (~12 sentences). Students are provided with the template.

Reason: Let’s try to analyse some sentences to find answers to the questions we have. Explaining the procedure, making sure the meaning of the sentences is clear. Doing one example together.


Concept question 1

(e.g. Is the speaker expressing his/her opinion regarding the action?)

Concept question 2 Concept question 3
1  Sentence with Verb Form 1 

(e.g. You must start working harder, your marks are unacceptable!)

2 Sentence with Verb Form 2      
3 Sentence with Verb Form 2      
4 ....      


g) Answering concept questions – individual work (continuation).

h) Checking consistency of answers in concept questions (individually).

Reason: Make sure that you agree with yourself. The answer for Concept Question 1 must be the same for the same Verb Forms (e.g. if answering the first concept question for the sentence with the modal verb ‘must’ you replied ‘yes’, then in all other sentences with the modal verb ‘must’ the answer for the concept question has to be ‘yes’ as well).

i) Building a model with the ENV. Students are provided with the template.

Parameter (e.g. Factuality of the action) Yes (fact) No (non-fact)  


Reason: After analysing the sentences, out task is to build the rule. The ENV model will help us to do it. Introduce the ENV. Discuss how to make the first parameter out of the first concept question. Do one example (for one parameter) together.

j) Building a model with the ENV – individual work (continuation).

k) Checking the model made by students.

Reason: We need to check the result of your work. You rules/hypothesis can be different, the main thing is that they work for you.
Student 1 presenting his/her model, other students commenting on it. Student 2 presenting his/her model, other students commenting on it. Students can introduce those changes to their models which they agree with.

l) Collecting a bank of authentic sentences to support your ‘rules’.

Reason: Before applying your rule, prove it to be right. Collect 10 sentences for every verb form you have and explain why this form is used there by your rule.

m) Work with the bank of sentences and explaining your rules. Discussing. Making the first conclusions.

n) Doing exercises (explaining every single sentence with one’s own rule)

o) Coming back to the aims and seeing if we managed to reply our ‘aim’ questions. In fact, this step can be done at the end of every lesson as a reflection, which helps students make conclusions out of the work done on the lesson.
Reason: Let’s come back to our aim and see if we managed to reply any questions we had and what is that you have managed to discover. You have 2 minutes to fill in the third column.

I know 

I don't know/I doubt

My aim...

I have learnt

p) Doing more exercises.

q) Post-test - checking the progress.

Reason: We need to check the result of our work and see if you have made any progress in comparison with the entry test.


Go to the beginning 


# Alexander Sokol 2013-01-03 13:10
I will write my comments on some of the steps giving them the same letter you did.

c) I suggested possible functions of sorting here (

d) Are you happy with this table for aim formulation? You've shared very little to be able to evaluate it but as I wrote I had a feeling, it didn't really bring the students to the aims and was not very well connected with further steps. One of my main concerns was that students didn't seem to see the problem they had to resolve with the rules they were asked to develop.
Do you see it differently?

i) I still don't quite understand why students are to be given the template that includes parameters already pre-formulated for them. In my view, it significantly reduces room for their own thinking and closes down the possibilities for the models developed.
What's your view?

k) I am not sure I understand the function of this step. Can you formulate it? It seems that step L does everything you need at step k, moreover there students can do it individually.

m) What kind of discussion are you speaking about here? I'd say that one needs more specific procedures here. If you look at the procedures at, one is asked to classify his/her mistakes here, as further steps depend on the nature of the mistake, ie a mistake doesn't necessarily mean that one needs to change the model.

q) I think there should be at least one more step before the post-test and at least one more after it. The former should invite the learners to put the model to practice (Part 6 of the system) while the latter is devoted to reflections and further plans (see Part 7 of the system).
# Renata Jonina 2013-01-03 18:57
I am replying to your comments under the same letters.

c) Thanks. I posted my reply there as well.

d) Now when you started speaking about connecting aim with the problem and further steps, I am not that happy with the table any more. However, before that I was:) The problem is that we don't know something, usually this will be something like 'how to use modal verbs' and further steps bring us to the rule or 'in which situation we have to use which modal verb'. But as I said, I wan to see the better alternative, if anyone has it. I am ready to improve.

i) I think we have the misunderstanding here. Students do NOT have templates with the pre-formulated parameters. They only have template of how to organise building a rule. The first example of the parameter is included here just as an example of what is mean to be put into each cell. Since I did the first line together with students I put the example of a possible result here. Then students were invited to formulate the parameter themselves, without my help.

k) Hm, I see your point. Well, the idea of step L came later (I didn't do it with my students), so step K performed its function, thus I put them here together. But you seem to be right. However, I'd say Step K may be needed if this is the first time students are doing the TA Grammar. Sending them to the bank of sentences without checking what they have produced might be too challenging for them.

m) Here, I mean that first students (l) collect sentences, then they (m) work with these sentences.
But to make it clear, all the steps after K do not have clear procedures for me yet. I put them here, but I am not sure how to work with them. So I agree that the description is too general and vague. So the same comment goes for your (q) comment.
# Alexander Sokol 2013-01-05 00:02
i) To avoid misunderstanding, can you let me know in what way the template you're referring to (when you gave it to the learners) was different from tasks 4.4 - 4.6 here:

(I am including a link to a different system as the ones dealing with modals are only available to registered users, so link will not work for those not logged in to the site).

m) The types of mistakes I referred to are also described here:
Just thought it might be useful to those reading this exchange of ours.
# Renata Jonina 2013-01-12 16:57
i) I do not quite understand what you refer to as a 'group' in 4.4. and 4.6. In my case, we had modal verbs at the top line and parameters had to be placed in the left column.

verb1 verb2 verb3
paramere 2
parameter 3
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