I haven’t been a real big fan of putting a lot of time into direct grammar instruction. I generally believe, and I know some research has shown, that students can develop grammar skills through reading, and prioritize helping my students find high-interest reading materials. In addition, I use concept attainment (I’ll write more about this instructional strategy in a future post) to help students learn grammar concepts inductively. And I just hate “drill-and-kill” grammar worksheets.
A number of our ELL students who have gone on to community college have been telling us they wish we had put more time into direct grammar instruction. Now, I can’t say for sure exactly what our other teachers have been doing related to grammar in their classes. And I’m not necessarily convinced that some of the community college classes aren’t making a mistake by placing so much of an emphasis on grammar.
However, I am reflecting on if I should make any changes in how I help my students develop grammar skills.
One very small change I am making is having students spend a little more time on grammar practice when we go to the computer lab — but spending it strategically on common challenges I have identified through their writing.
In the process of reflection, I’ve identified which grammar sites that I think are most engaging and useful to students, and thought I would share them in another “The Best…” list.
Here are my choices — not in order of preference — for The Best Sites For Grammar Practice (and that I think are accessible to English Language Learners). I’ve divided them into two sections — sites that are best for Beginning and Early Intermediate English Language Learners and ones more appropriate for Intermediate and Advanced:
BEGINNERS & EARLY INTERMEDIATE
Grammar Gold has a number of different exercises and provides audio support for its text.
Grammar Practice Park is a similar Harcourt site.
Road To Grammar Jr. has many interactive grammar quizzes.
I think the use of Oxford University Press’ series of Phrase Builder exercises can help develop grammar, as well as listening, skills. Here are links to several of them:
Ventures Arcade from Cambridge has some excellent reinforcing exercises for grammar. Their more advanced editions won’t be out until January, so for right now only exercises for Beginners and Early Intermediate are available.
Touchstone from Cambridge also has similar activities.
INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED
Grammarman offers online comics, with audio support for the text, that teach grammar topics.
Road To Grammar (different from the “Jr.” version) has a number of interactive quizzes.
Touchstone from Cambridge also has good activities if you go to books “3″ and “4.”
Classzone’s Grammar Arcade has many engaging games that reinforce grammar concepts. The link is a little strange — sometimes when you click on it you first get directed to Classzone’s main page. If that happens, just click on “California” and then click on “Go.”
Brainpop has a large collection of movies related to grammar. They’re closed-captioned, and also have quizzes. However, you do have to pay for a subscription. You can get a free trial, though. This is only one of two sites that I have reviewed on this blog that charges and that I recommend.
The British Council has a ton of grammar games.
I’m adding the Virtual Grammar Lab to this list. It has over 2400 grammar activities, and teachers can create a free account so that they can track student progress.
Center For Education and Training’s Flashed ESL site.
Interactive ESL Grammar Games comes from ESL Games
Animated Grammar tutorials from Great Source.
Movie Segments To Assess Grammar Goals is a blog by Claudio Azevedo from Brazil. The blog shares grammar exercises connected to…movie segments. He has online video clips embedded in the blog along with the exercises. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely his blog’s host, blogspot, is going to make it through many school content filters, but it would be easy enough to get the videos through Netflix or upload them to a site like Edubogs TV so they can be seen at school.
English Grammar Lessons has tons of engaging activities. Click on the grammar lesson you want on the left side of the page and, then, when you get there, click on any of the exercises that will be on the right side.
English Grammar Secrets has many good grammar interactives.
Focus On Grammar appears to provide online support to a grammar textbook. In order to access it, you just have to type in your email address. It’s not flashy at all, but I think it’s surprisingly good.
As always, feedback is welcome — both about sites and your thoughts about how to help students best learn grammar concepts.