Monday, August 28, 2017

Teaching and Masking Grammar While Staying in the Target Language

As World Language teachers, we run into the big question: Should I focus my attention on communication and practicality or should I focus on grammar.  Often, I hear teachers ask (myself being one of them) “How often do we visit a country where the target language is spoken and get asked to identify the parts of speech?”  Probably not too often.  But does this mean we should ignore grammar altogether?  While more recently, many of us as World Language teachers are more communication and practicality focused (again, myself included), we must take into consideration
that we want our students to be productive and successful members of society.  We want our students to be able to read and write properly in the target language.  Some of our students could go on to major in a language in college or find themselves in a job where they might use the target language.  We want our students to be able to represent themselves as well as possible, just like we would like them to do in English (or in their first language.)  

In the article, Teaching and Masking Grammar in the Target Language, we explore strategies for keeping the majority of our instruction focused on real-life tasks and scenarios, while “sneaking in,” or as I like to put it “masking” grammar.  We will also consider how we can teach or “mask” grammar while keeping 90% or more of our instruction in the target language.  We will consider how with the help of a Spiraling Curriculum, the PACE Model, authentic activities, and methods for appropriately incorporating English when necessary, we can prepare our students to use the target language in the real world without forgetting about those grammatical structures.  While these strategies can be used to teach just about any structure for just about any language, for demonstration purposes, this article focuses on “er” verbs in a French class.   
Finally, we will take a look at a thorough explanation of the mentioned components and consider exactly what each of them mean and how they will facilitate the instruction of a given grammatical structure, while engaging our students.  The reader is then encouraged to brainstorm and share ways each of these strategies can be applied to his or her unique teaching situation and curriculum.  
Ultimately, our students will gain the skills needed to use the target language in a real life setting while mastering each grammatical concept.  With the help of a Spiraling Curriculum, the PACE Model, authentic activities, and strategies for implementing English appropriately when needed, we will successfully achieve this goal while keeping at least 90% of instruction in the target language.  I hope you find the article useful, and I look forward to hearing from you!

For more, read the full blog post at Teaching in The Target Language.

Laura McClintock is the author of the blog, Teaching in the Target Language ( She is also K-12 French teacher in South Jersey.  While the majority of her teaching experience takes place in a middle school setting, Laura also teaches at Rowan University (in South Jersey) and Cabrini University (outside of Philadelphia).  Additionally, Laura has experience teaching classes and giving lessons in the areas of adult education, high school, elementary and preschool.  
Laura completed her Master of Arts in Teaching French at Rutgers, New Brunswick and her undergraduate degree at Rutgers, Camden, where she majored in French and minored in European Studies.  Laura also completed her New Jersey Supervisor Certificate at Rowan University.  While English is Laura’s first language, French is her second.  Laura studied French in Nice, in Southern France.  In addition to teaching French, Laura gives professional development workshops on strategies for keeping 90% of instruction in the target language.  
You can follow Laura on Twitter @LfMcclintock and you can join her mailing list for her blog by going to 

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