I am just wondering if you actually remember all the grammar rules?

If not, what if the students ask you about certain specific rules?

I am a Chinese. I don't know any rules when I speak Chinese but Chinese is my native language.

I am going to take a short TESOL course next month. Just a bit concerned...

I learned basic grammar when I was in school, many years ago. Later in life, I had the opportunity to review some grammar when I did my TESL teaching qualification in college.

So, I know some grammar 'rules', but by no means all. I am constantly amazed and impressed by how many rules learners on this Forum are familiar with. I have never heard of many of them before.

However, my big advantage is that I am a native speaker who can speak good English. In class, if someone asks whether a sentence is correct grammar and I don't know the 'rule', I can try to figure it out and find an explanation that helps them. Similarly, if they quote a 'rule' that they have learned that seems to me not to work, I try to find an explanation as to why not.

As a Chinese speaker, you have the same advantage in your native language but obviously not in English. My advice is just to accept that and to do the best you can. In particular, don't be afraid to say 'I don't know, but I will try to find out'. You have to be honest with your students, and they will respect that. I've always taught adults, and they respond to this approach. I'm not sure how you should approach children, particularly in a country where my understanding is that the teacher is expected to know everything. I recommend, as I'm sure you already know, that you prepare your lesson as thoroughly as you can before you go into the classroom. Later, as you get more experienced, you will find this easier to do.

Good luck, and try to think positively.

We get this question asked almost every day here at ICAL by both native and non native English speakers.

Grammar is often perceived as a major obstacle by many English teachers. Not because they feel their English may be poor but because despite being able to speak and write English correctly they don’t know what makes it correct and they cannot explain it to their students.

How many times have you been asked questions like: Why can I not say “I have an Italian new girlfriend.” You well know the correct sentence is “I have a new Italian girlfriend” but apart from your instinct you have no other guidance as to why one is correct and the other isn’t, and so the inevitable answer follows: Because that’s not how we say it in English!

Ok, so you got away with that one but more questions like that are bound to pop up now and then. You should be prepared.

But this is just one aspect, of course. For more check the article in the ICALwiki at http://www.icalweb.com/wiki/index.php?title=Do_I_Need_to_know_Grammar%3F .

The ICALwiki also has a comprehensive and up-to-date online Grammar Guide, which you may find useful.

Hope this helps

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thanks Clive and Pete. : )

Clive: Just wondering if you could recommend some TEFL books/materials so that I could be prepared before I go to the class?
Hi Clive,
You mentioned that you got your TESL teaching qualification in college. Do you know if VCC has a good program?
I am also in Canada... Emotion: smile
Clive: Just wondering if you could recommend some TEFL books/materials so that I could be prepared before I go to the class? In terms of books that are very useful to have as teacher tools, I recommend various classroom books on grammar by Betty Azar.

Sorry, I don't know anything about VCC. You have to do some research, make some inquiries, try to find and talk to people who have gone there.

Good luck, Clive
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Thanks Clive.
Well there's a big problem here ... which grammar rules? Emotion: big smile Emotion: big smile Emotion: big smile

There is no strict code in English of RULES, three textbooks can give three completely different "rules" for the same point of grammar, the "rules" taught in beginner levels often have to be unlearned later on (for example every single one of my Korean students has been taught that a gerund follows a preposition. There's no such rule in English, it's total nonsense ... plus it means they all come into class saying things like "I came here for studying English" which drives me nuts), then there are major differences between what is grammatically correct and what is common in spoken English, not to mention a few minor grammatical differences between British English and American English. It's absolutely impossible for any English teacher to know them all Emotion: smile

Non-native speaking teachers tend to hold on to whatever rules they were taught when they learned English, while natives tend to play it more by ear. Most of us, through experience, know the important rules and then we just go by how it sounds. If a student asks me a question I usually ask for an example sentence to make it less about the "rule" and more about how to say what he or she wants to say correctly.

But there are also major disagreements about grammar among English teachers. Here's a good example:

The mountains that are covered in snow are safe to ski on.

The mountains, which are covered in snow, are safe to ski on.

When I was in school I was taught that 'that' and 'which' had different functions and different meanings. I like this "rule" because it's simple and functional. However at the last English school I taught at the Head Teacher disagreed and believed that 'that' and 'which' had the same meaning and that the commas were what changed the meaning of the sentence. We had a HUGE fight about this with both of us bring in multiple reference books that supported our opinion Emotion: smile