GRAMMAR PROJECTS: AN ESL SUCCESS STORY
Our study examines the grammatical performance of intermediate students to measure their improvement after undertaking several projects. Since our goal as ESL teachers is to equip students to deal with the authentic language of the real world, they should be given authentic language use opportunities in the classroom (Hedge2000). As grammar teachers, we noticed that classroom materials often lack authenticity. Therefore, we felt the need to introduce a wider range of authentic materials to enable students to transfer their grammatical knowledge into real-world language. We assigned students to first search for and read on-line texts. Second, they were asked to highlight targeted grammatical structures. Finally, they were requested to analyze those structures by giving specific reasons for each use based on the knowledge they acquired in class. In order to assess the usefulness of this activity, we conducted a small scale study with two sections of intermediate students. One section (study group) engaged in the project activity; the other section (control group) experienced the usual grammar activities as per the level objectives. Subsequently, we analyzed both midterm and final exams of both groups to measure the accuracy of specifically targeted grammatical structures. Our findings reveal that the study group was more accurate at producing the targeted grammatical structures. Hence, we argue that this significant gain in grammatical proficiency stems from the students’ exposure to the projects. This is further supported by the results of a survey in which students rated the projects quite favorably.