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Multisensory tasks for teaching grammar

Multisensory tasks for teaching grammar - Video
My name is Borbala Kalmos. I am an English teacher in Hungary. I teach English as a foreign language to dyslexic students who are adults or high school aged. I’m also involved in research that focuses on dyslexic students and how they use foreign languages. And I also participated in the Dystefl project. My name is Oroslya Szatzker. I’m an English teacher. I teach English as a foreign language in Hungary. I’m also involved in research focusing on dyslexic learners’ needs. I also took part in the Dystefl project as a researcher.
So the title of this task is sentence cards, and it is used to teach students word order. And it can be used for several structures. So in this case, I am using it to teach the present simple in two types of sentences for elementary level students. But you can use it to teach other tenses. You can use it to teach passives, and of course, it can also be adapted to other languages like teaching word order in German or negation in French. The task itself is multi-sensory, so the students manipulate cards. So it involves visual cues and movement as well. The technique itself is age-independent. It depends on the type of structure that you teach.
So the task itself should take about 20, 25 minutes, but a short version can also be done, which shouldn’t take more than five minutes. First of all, before you teach the class, you should prepare the cards for the students. Depending on how many students you have, you can make cards for each student separately, or you can make them for pairs of students. Make sure that your cards are slightly bigger so that the students can see them more easily. However, you can also just write the sentences on the board, so that also works. The cards that you should prepare should be simple words, so they shouldn’t contain any difficult expressions.
The aim of this task is just to practise, not to teach a new vocabulary. So here, for example, I have cards which have objects, people, or pronouns on them. I have cards with verbs, two of them, and I also have some which contain names of places or times here. And finally, I have a group of cards which basically contain the function words here. As you can see, they are colour coded, or some of them at least are colour coded. This is not by accident. So the colours should help the students to remember the rules or to remember which card goes together with what.
So for example, I have my aunt and the cat in blue, which are in the third person. So IS is also in blue, which should help the student to remember that these usually go together. Also I have the plural S in red, and I also have ARE in red so that the students can remember that these two also go together. So when you start the activity, you should give the students the cards in an envelope to make it easier. And also you can include some blank cards as well so that the students can add their own expressions later.
If you would like the students to practise giving short answers as well to the questions that they will build using the cards, then here you can see another group of cards which contain yes, no, and some duplicates of the function words, basically. If you would like to use these cards as well, then I think it’s a better idea to give this to the students separately when they need them so that they don’t have too many cards in front of them at one time. So after you have given the cards to the students, then they should separate them into the groups that I just described a bit earlier.
And encourage them to always put back the cards in the group where they belong when they change the sentence so that it’s easier for them to build the new sentences. So first you should give them a model sentence. For example, in this case, we can have, my aunt is at the disco every Saturday. So it can be a little silly. These don’t have to make sense, strictly speaking. So you can make the sentence on the board with your cards or you can write it on the board using the same colours, and the students should build it in front of them at their desks.
After you have the sentence, you should show them or give them the red letter S, which is the plural S, and put it after my aunt, so you get my aunt. And then ask the students what changes, or what should they change in the sentence. Hopefully some of them will know that you should change the is to are, and so you switch that out. Or you can also layer it. It depends on what your prefer. And so you get my aunts are at the disco every Saturday if you have more aunts. So basically the students should also read it out after they have finished building the sentence.
The aim of this is to make it more multi-sensory so that there’s also an audio component to the task. After this you should give them, or show them, the not card. And you should tell them that you want to make the sentence negative. Again, ask them, where does it go? Hopefully one of them or some of them will know where it goes, and they should insert the card into the sentence as you also do on the board. Again, have the students read it out. Then, it is a good idea to go back to the original sentence. So again, you should have, my aunt is at the disco every Saturday.
And then show them the question mark, or put the question mark at the end of the sentence on the board. And then again, ask them what happens. And then you should switch the first two cards and the students should do the same, read it out again. So basically you should repeat the same or the similar process, and you can also use it to help them make wh questions. So you can add where here. Where is my aunt every Saturday? And the answer will be, at the disco.
Also, if you would like to practise the short answers to the yes-no questions as well, then you can use these other cards here that I showed you earlier to do so. OK. When you are finished with the first round of transformations, you can put a few simple rules on the board to help the students remember what they should do in each step. And then after this, it’s really up to you and the students. You can do the same transformations again if you think they need practise. You can change the order of the transformations if you think they are more confident.
You can change the sentence, or you can have the students write their own words on the blank cards and make sentences with those new words.
After you’re done practicing with the is-are sentences, you can move on to sentences that contain verbs. And then you can practise the do-does or does-doesn’t type of sentences as well. However, here, make sure that the students are ready to contrast the two types of sentences. It is very common that dyslexic students get confused if two structures are contrasted too early when they are not confident enough in each of them. So if you think they are still unsure about the is-are sentences, then stick with those and just practise those and then move on to the sentences with the proper verbs at the later stage.
This activity, I think, is most effective if you practise it with the students over a longer period of time or over the whole course, basically, just as a warmup or a cooler activity at the beginning or at the end of the lesson. Of course, in this case, you don’t need to do the whole lead-in part, and you don’t have to model it on the board anymore because the students are familiar with the activity and with the rules, hopefully. So all you need to do is give them the cards and then and have them call out the transformations, or you call out the transformations and they manipulate the cards.
And just walk around and check whether it was done correctly or not.
The title of this task is “What’s your?” And the aim of it is to practise a grammatical structure and to consolidate students’ knowledge about it. In particular, it’s about question words and asking questions. The activity itself can be used for various purposes, other grammatical structures as well. But in this particular case, we’re going to practise asking questions with one particular question word. The point is that you should always focus on one item at a time, so one question word. And this is extremely important in case of dyslexic students, as they may have problems with their working memory. And then in mainstream course books, question words are very often taught simultaneously.
As for preparation, the only thing you need is to prepare a mind map and a set of cards to each student or a pair of students. As for the mind map, you can create it with a mind map maker programme like this, or simply you can draw one on an A4 size sheet of paper. The basic principles of creating a mind map are like this. So please just put the paper in a horizontal position, and then write the keywords in the middle of the paper in capital letters. That’s important. And then add all the other items around it. And it’s also important to link each sub item to the keyword with a clearly visible line.
And that can be done on the computer and with pen and paper as well. So besides a mind map, you should also create a set of cards with the sub items around the keyword. In this case they look like this. I either use examples or some pictograms, for instance, this one for an email address or numbers for a telephone number. So as for the instructions, first you should give the cards to the students, and then write the keywords into the middle of the board like this.
What’s your? And then hold up the cards one by one and elicit the meaning in English from the class. If it’s a whole class task, then just ask the question and then hopefully some of the students, or one of the students, would know the answer, like what does this stand for? And then this is for email address. And then you may involve the students in this exercise like sticking the card on the board and make a line, so like link each item one by one to the keyword in the middle.
So you should do it one by one. The most important thing is to add the word as well. So this stands for email address.
This one stands for address. And then ask the students one by one, and finish the mind map with all the cards gradually. And after that you can ask questions, first, like, what does this stand for? One by one. And then they could either read the word or just learn by heart or compare them, et cetera. And you can also ask the students to ask questions and answer them in pairs. To make it more difficult, you simply wipe off the words and do it once again. And then as a final step, just ask the students to ask questions to each other in pairs and also answer them.
Or, if it’s a whole class task, then ask the students to ask a question, and then choose the next student to answer it, and ask the next question, and it goes on like this.

In this video Borbála Kálmos and Orsolya Szatzker, English teachers from Hungary who have wide range of experience working with dyslexic language learners, present two tasks that they find useful in teaching grammar.

As you watch think about how you could apply or adapt these tasks for your teaching context.

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Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching

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