The TEFL Life: A TEFL blog

a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures

situational learning

Situational learning is something I have come to use a lot in my classes, especially in teaching grammar. Situational learning is not even a recognised term, I am sure, but this is what I call it and guaranteed I am not the first to do it. In a nutshell, it’s putting grammar in context. That’s the theory that we all learn anyway, so you can see this is not rocket science. The whole thing about situational learning, though, is that it is the entire lesson. That’s all you need to do.

The reason it works? Classrooms are really just practice sessions for the real world. Students learn English in the classroom so they can use it outside the classroom. So why not let the classroom mirror the outside world? In this way, when students bump into these situations that have already taken place in the classroom, they’ll have a pretty good idea of what to say.

Now for the important bit: how it works. Simple. When teaching a structure, think of when it is used. Create the situation in the classroom which will encourage the use of the structure. This needs to be natural, and not weird and off-on-a-tangent. Focus on meaning and form. Let the students have some controlled practice. Then, when they are feeling brave enough, take off the training wheels and let them run wild with some free practice.

Some examples:

Will for predictions: the optimist vs the pessimist (New English File has a great lesson for this for Pre-Intermediate)

2nd conditional: the worst day ever

Present perfect vs past simple: travel stories

used to : how I’ve changed

As I said, not rocket science. Just stop, think, and step away from the grammar exercises.

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One comment on “situational learning

  1. Pingback: reactive teaching | this is it

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2015 by in General TEFL, grammar and tagged , , , , .

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