Rawane Moukadem & Diana Ware, The University of Adelaide’s ELC
The Chicken or the Egg? Grammar Skills or Writing Practice?

'How can I deal with my students' grammar errors? Parts of speech lessons, grammar drills, punctuation exercises…these will definitely help!' As the weeks go by, students continue to make the same mistakes. Not too long after, your reflection begins: 'I taught you this! I went over this with you! You were using the correct verb tenses in the grammar worksheets. Why aren’t you doing this in your writing?' Simply telling students what a preposition is and having them complete sentences with the suitable word choice does not help them utilize it in their own writing. There is a mistaken belief that grammar lessons must come before writing, when in fact grammar is something that can be best learned through writing.

Teaching writing in the classroom needs a change of pace and requires a different mental learning process to other English language skills. Grammar and writing require involving students as active participants in their learning by doing, making, creating, and solving. The workshop will outline how we can promote student engagement and optimize positive learning by discussing more holistic approaches to writing that emphasize grammar, syntax, and organization with a focus on purpose, form, and communication. Activities that can be adapted to be relevant to the students’ needs of your classroom will be examined, for example academic or general English, different levels of English, using both cooperative learning and mixed-ability groups. The audience will engage in a writing activity that includes time to think, prepare, make mistakes and find alternatives.

Rawane Moukadem is an English Language teacher and has worked at the University of Adelaide’s English Language Centre for approximately 4 years. For 9 years, she has taught Academic and General English in Lebanon and Australia for various purposes including job progression, certification of proficiency from Cambridge University, and standardized test preparation (e.g. TOEFL & SAT) to enrol into university or study abroad.

Diana Ware has been an English Language Teacher on the Pre-Enrolment Program at the English Language Centre at the University of Adelaide for 2 years. Prior to that she taught General English at a range of levels, and for IELTS and Cambridge exams, as well as Academic English to students on pathway programs to Flinders University in Adelaide. They are both passionate about implementing current pedagogy to optimize positive student learning and promote student engagement. They strive to help students to reach their potential by structuring learning to take students purposefully towards relevant, meaningful and long-term goals while understanding learners’ diverse needs.