Ideas for Teaching Spoken Grammar
by Amanda Hilliard
Traditionally, formal descriptions of English grammar have been based on standards of written English. However, recently, particularly as a result of analysis of large corpora of spoken data and an emphasis on spoken communication, researchers and linguists are beginning to focus on describing features of spoken grammar, and there has been increasing interest in understanding and teaching spoken grammar. After all, spoken grammar has arisen to meet the needs of natural spoken conversation, and teaching it in the language classroom can help teachers avoid “producing speakers of English who can only speak like a book” (Carter & McCarthy, 1995, p. 207). Although there is still some debate as to what constitutes spoken grammar and the extent to which it should be taught, raising students’ awareness of spoken grammar can help improve their communication abilities and comprehension skills, particularly in cases where students are learning English in order to communicate with native speakers. This article presents some activities and ideas teachers can use to raise students’ awareness of and ability to produce features of spoken grammar such as fillers, backchannels, heads, tails, and ellipses.