Inductive and Deductive Approaches Teaching grammar
As a teacher, either of English as a second language or foreign language, it is very important to know different approaches to effective instruction in the English language classroom. When it comes to teaching grammar, for example, deductive and inductive approaches are two commonly used methods by many teachers. For the sake of understanding, this post is about the inductive approach. It will provide examples, benefits, and steps to teach grammar inductively.
The inductive approach to teaching grammar
The inductive approach in teaching grammar is a discovery learning approach in which teachers don’t teach the grammatical rules directly but let students discover them through a learning experience in terms of using the target language. For instance, the students can discover the rules through games, songs, or different activities that require the students’ engagement and interaction. In most inductive grammar lessons, the teacher introduces the grammatical rule by simply engaging students in a meaningful conversation. The teacher guides and scaffolds the students to notice the grammatical pattern, elicit the form, and then finally expose them to it.
Example of inductive approach
A teacher writes on the whiteboard some examples of present perfect and simple past sentences. Afterward, the teacher asks the students what differences they notice in the sets of sentences. The students discuss the differences in peers or in groups. The teacher elicits the difference in terms of the form and possibly the meaning from the students. Finally, the teacher explains the rules of both tenses and provides more examples.
Benefits of the inductive approach to teaching grammar
There are several advantages of using the inductive approach. Firstly, students become more active and enthusiastic to discover the rules by themselves. Secondly, it is a learner-centered approach, and students become actively engaged through conversation and peer discussion. Thirdly, students gain a deep understanding of the language as they independently construct their knowledge, form, and meaning of the grammar pattern based on their own experience.
How to teach grammar inductively
Firstly, teachers provide examples of language structures that students should examine. The examples might be phrases, sentences, or short paragraphs. This basically depends on the proficiency level of students. The most important thing is that teachers make sure that they give more examples of the structure that they want to teach to students.
Secondly, students form rules based on what they see. Teachers should let their students analyze the examples and try to elicit the rule. This is a very important step as students try to think about the examples and elicit the patterns.
Thirdly, students test their rules against other examples. Teachers provide students with more examples of the same structure they are teaching and let students examine them. The examples might be a little bit deeper than the first ones.
Fourthly, students modify the rules. Teachers should ask their students to look at the rules they generated in the second step and modify them, if necessary, based on the examples they added. Students are expected to elicit the form and meaning of the target structure. Teachers will have to confirm and add anything, if necessary.
Fifthly, students use the rules of the target structure when they use language. At this stage, teachers should provide students with different types of activities to help students practice the rules in depth. Teachers can start with controlled and semi-controlled activities until students internalize the form. After this, teachers can provide free practice activities in which students express themselves using the learned structure. Throughout this stage, teachers should help students and provide correction whenever necessary.
- Thornbury, S. (1999). How to Teach Grammar. Pearson.
- Brown, H.D. (2007). Principles of language learning and teaching. Pearson Longman.