Author: Tsigereda Negussie | Published on 1 February 2024


Question: My learners find grammar lessons boring. How can I make teaching grammar more engaging?

Answer: By teaching grammar indirectly

In most cases teachers tend to teach grammar rules explicitly. But this is sometimes boring for our learners and they switch off. By teaching grammar indirectly the learners are unaware they are being taught. In addition, they eventually become more autonomous with their learning.  

Ways in which to teach grammar indirectly include:

Concept Checking

Use simple sentences to introduce the grammatical concept and ask concept checking questions (CCQs) to check understanding instead of explaining rules explicitly. You can use examples from their daily life or from familiar situations to make this concept more relatable. 

Example: Even though it rained heavily, we went out for a walk.

CCQ1:  Did it rain?  A: Yes. 
CCQ2: Did they go for a walk?      A: Yes.
CCQ3: Is it strange or normal to go for a walk when it rains?  A: Strange 
CCQ4: Do we use ‘even though’ to contrast information or add?  A: contrast

Guided Discovery

Present the learners with a context or situation, such as a dialogue or a short story, and ask them to identify specific grammatical structures. Provide guiding questions to help them analyse and understand the patterns or rules in the language.

Example: Underline the discourse markers found in the following paragraph.

‘First of all, I really enjoyed the movie we watched last night although there were some parts that I found quite boring. The storyline was engaging and the actors delivered great performances but the pacing seemed a bit slow at times. Additionally, the special effects were high quality, which made certain scenes truly appealing even though the dialogue felt a bit boring. Overall, I must say it was an entertaining movie, despite its errors.’

Guiding Questions

  • Which markers do we use to add information?
  • Which markers do we use to contrast information?

Use the Inductive Approach

Don’t tell the grammar rules to the students. Instead, provide learners with a set of examples sentences and ask them to observe and analyse the patterns on their own. Ask them to write their own rules or explanations based on their observations on their note book.

Example: Look at the words in bold do they add or contrast information? What parts of speech come before or after them?           

  • In spite of his old age, he runs every day.
  • She is very smart, although she doesn’t like to read books.
  • Despite his fear of heights, he climbed up the ladder.
  • Even though she has a lot of homework to do, she is watching TV now.

Team Work Learning

Ask the learners to share and discuss their rules in a pairs or groups in order to facilitate discussion, peer learning, as well as a deeper understanding of grammar rules.

Example (following on from the above task): 

Now share your rules with your partner (in your groups) and explain them.

Contextualize Grammar Exercises

Design grammar exercises that include grammar points in a meaningful contexts, such as reading passages or dialogues. 


Hawi: How did you find the restaurant we visited yesterday?

Tesfaye: I found it disappointing.

Hana: What makes you say that?

Tesfaye: Although the setting was lovely, with soft lighting and classy décor, the service was incredibly slow and we had to wait for our food for ages.

Hawi: Besides that, the menu had a great variety of dishes. However, when our meals finally arrived, they were cold and lacked flavor. 

Practice before you teach 

Get the learners to do a task testing what they know before you teach them the grammar point. This means you only focus on their errors and what they need rather than everything about the grammar point, some of which they might already know. 

Example 1: Rearrange the following sentences correctly.

  1. taste even though looked the delicious, it good  didn’t at all cake.
  2. finished headache. She her despite homework time her on. 

Example 2: Use sentence stems

Encourage students to complete sentences on their own. For example: Although it was sunny, we.… This will give the learners a chance to show their understanding and help you to direct your teaching towards errors.

Example 3: Use Visual Aids, games and role plays

Use pictures or diagrams to illustrate ideas. Visual aids can be very helpful in making abstract concepts more concrete. At the same time games and role plays will make the class very interactive, unforgettable and enjoyable and learning can be fun and educational simultaneously.

1: Give half of a text or sentence to one student and the other half to another student and make them search for the matching half. For example, the first student holds Although she is lazy and the next student holds she passed the exam. Then ask them to search for their match.

2: Write the first half of sentences on sticky papers and stick them to the wall or blackboard and write the other half on another sticky paper, fold them and distribute to different students. Then ask them to match their sentence with the sentence on the wall or black board.

3: Before the class, put sentence halves in a balloon. In class, blow the balloons up, and put the students into teams, half at one side of the class, half at the other. The students then put a balloon between their legs, take it to the other side of the room and pass it to the next student who goes to the other side as well. When all the students have done this, they pop the balloon, take out the sentences and remake them, matching the appropriate halves. The first team to finish is a winner.