Grammar Chants

September 15, 2009 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Class, ESOL, Teaching | 2 Comments

While grammar isn’t our students’ favorite subject (or ours for that matter), it is still important to introduce our learners to it. I’ve struggled immensely with teaching basic grammar skills to our level 1 students. It’s difficult to find a balance between teaching “life skills” English while teaching them useful grammar structures.

What I found worked extremely well were “grammar chants.” Using simple present tense, I had my students begin class with grammar chants.

“I have, you have, we have, they have, he has, she has, it has.” Be sure to stress the differences between have and has. Demonstrate examples with things relevant to the class such as “she has a book” or “he has a pencil.”

The “popcorn” reading/repeating method works well.  Prompt students to say one phrase:
Student 1: I have
Student 2: You have
Student 3: We have

Also, it’s helpful to use verbs that are used frequently in everyday life. Some examples: to work, to eat, to go, to have, to live, to be.

Asmait Tewelde, AmeriCorps instructor alumnus 2008-2009


  1. I agree, Asmait, that grammar isn’t very exciting, but I find that my adult students always pay very close attention. We have a lesson almost every class period called the “Verb of the Day”. By using verbs that they hear and will use, it’s relevant and important. Get everyone to demonstrate that they get it: I have a pencil. She has a pencil. etc. Saying it, writing it, and hearing it will help students remember it. Before we start the next verb, we always quickly review the ones before – building vocabulary and bringing absentees up to speed.


  2. Hi Sheila, this is brilliant. Love the multiple reinforcements and variations to ensure that the lessons STICK. Thanks for the feedback, and we look forward to hearing more from you.


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