Teaching Grammar Chunks to Younger Learners

In general children under ten years old cannot learn grammar through a focus on rules. We can see this through observation and we know this through our reading of Piaget et al. The logical thinking, reasoning and generalization needed to be able to work from grammar rules is something that only really starts developing from the age of eight or nine onwards.

So children can’t learn grammar? Of course, they can. They learn the grammar of their first (home, mother) language incredibly successfully. They do so through a great deal of exposure to it from everyone around them: hearing songs and stories, listening to caregivers and siblings, having access to media like TV and radio. They spend a great deal of every day of their early lives just listening and trying to make sense of what they hear. Then they use it when they need to communicate.

What we as teachers of children learning English as a second, additional or foreign language must ensure for them to be able to make sense of this new language is to:
      Provide plenty of exposure to English, by using it as much as possible ourselves in the class room, telling stories, singing songs and just chatting to the learners in English
·         Ensure that the language input they get is supported by plenty of meaningful clues to meaning like body language, gestures, facial expressions, visuals
·         Allow children to play with the sound and rhythm of language
·         Encourage children to communicate with whatever English they have
·         Give positive feedback and praise them so they keep trying and having fun
·         Give children tasks that help them notice the patterns of language they have been exposed to like the two tasks below which should be copied and cut up. Make them nice and big so that children can work in small groups at their tables or on the floor. And be careful to cut them in such a way that it's not possible to match them just by putting two pieces together and see where they have been cut!!!

A.    Match the questions to the answers:

         What time is it?
It’s half past two.
    What’s her name?
It’s Jenny.
    What colour are Caroline’s eyes?
They are brown.
       Whose book is this?
It’s John’s.
     How many desks are there in the classroom?
There are twenty.
    Where is my school bag?
It’s in the kitchen.
    How old is Mr Jones.
He’s forty-one.
    Why is Tommy happy?
Because it’s his birthday today.
    Who is he?
He’s our English teacher.
    When are we going to visit granny?
On Sunday.

B.    Match the two halves of the sentence:
is a woman.
They are
grey elephants.
It is
a cat.
is eight.
He is
It is a
She is
a tall girl.
She is a
are big boys.
He is a
funny boy.


  1. I think speaking a language is as important as writing it, or in whatever you do, do your best. Although it may take time to perfect speaking English, it is best to try it without the "bahala na" way of thinking.

    combining Two Sentences