shopping cart

Cart empty

Blog #3



 BLOG #3

Improve Grammar Skills Using Multi-Modality  Activities: Where to Start.

      Talk/Write welcomes you to our third blog, the last in this series.   In July, we discussed how the grammar used in State standards testing is difficult for our English Learners to understand. Our next blog suggested assessments and strategies to build grammatical skills.  This blog will site some resources and how to implement them successfully with our ELL population.


Saturday, February 16, 2013
2:00 pm Pacific Time
3D's Virtual Workshop
Grammar and Mechanics
Go to to register now!

Where Do I Start?

      Start with a pre-test and a plan. This is where I recommend use of Harkins’ Conversation With Conjunctions. (See link below.)  I’ve used the program and have had  great success with both comprehension and use of conjunctions as well as compound/complex sentence forms. The program has a pretest that identifies the forms students use and don’t use. Additionally, the program allows compound and complex sentence forms to be taught using different tenses and English word order. Therefore, if a student is making errors on tense or on word order, you can target these within the context of practice with compound or complex sentences.                                                                             

Using the Program

     After pre-testing your students, follow the tasks in the program. Each task requires a product from students either verbally or in writing. The meaning of the conjunction word is defined for  students. Synonyms for target conjunctions are provided. Students listen to model sentences using the conjunction and then create their own sentences using   words pictured on cards. Students also listen to paragraphs and answer WH questions requiring them to answer in sentences using the targeted words.           
     The teacher who uses the program only needs to add a few tasks to make the lessons multimodality, i.e. for students to  use the form in listening, reading, speaking, and writing. After students complete the paragraph listening task, for example, have them read the paragraphs and write answers to the questions.  After students create oral sentences using the target conjunctions in picture description tasks, have the students write the sentences that they recall saying or hearing. 

Adding Games

       I also like to introduce challenge and speed games with targeted forms. I have students write their sentences on index cards and then cut out each word of a sentence to form a sentence scramble game. Students exchange scrambled sentences and we see who can unscramble the sentences the fastest. We also play a speed game where students scan for target conjunctions in classroom reading books or text books. Again, the winner is the one who can find the form AND rephrase the sentence or tell me the two parts joined by the conjunction.
How Do I Use Essay Writing to Provide More Functional Use of Target Forms?        
If you phrase your essay topics so you use the target form, students will be forced to use the form too. (You may also require them to use the form at least two other times in the essay.)
Here are a few essay topic forms that may help:
     Conditional: If Lincoln were president today, what would he change?     
     Exception: Science contributes to a better society, but not to__________     
     Causal or inferential: As long as there are ____________________, there will be __________  (society, economy, class,  integration, etc.)                    
     Second: Use the Mechanics format of the Talk/Write program (See link below).
    First have students write essays. Review each essay and identify the grammatical error that hurts the clarity of the essay the most.  I suggest following up by teaching students in groups, with each group devoted to working on a particular troublesome grammatical error.  Teach the target form, practice using the target form in atleast one of their own essays , then have students search for erred use of the target form and correct these using the Talk/Write Mechanics Self Correct form (available through our Virtual Workshop.)

Featured Website    

English as a Second Language
        If you haven’t used the English as a Second Language website you are in for an amazing discovery.  Rated as one of the top four websites for English as a Second Language Learners, one visit will reveal why it’s so popular.  The home page is easy to navigate, and welcomes you with a creative attribute, the talking Mike tutor: an animated robot which you communicate with in writing. This is quite a unique device to improve writing fluency while having a great time.                 
     This website includes an endless supply of leveled reading, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and tutorials for all levels of English fluency.  The “Kids” link supplies materials, games, and support for students, parents, and teachers. Podcasts, newspapers, magazines are all linked to English as a Second Language’s site as well.            
and discovery a gold mine of resources and meet the talking Mike tutor now!


The Persuasive Essay

A Research-Based,


Partially Scripted Program


Teaching and Learning

Written Expression


Get yours today at



Provide services and products that help the teacher teach and the learner learn in the most effective and efficient ways possible. Communicate with teachers in order to create, as well as  test in real classroom environments, services and products so that they best meet student and teacher needs.


Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.