Visions of a hybridized grammar (and reading…and writing) course

IEPA (Intensive English Program: Academic) Grammar 3 is a course offered to students of low-intermediate English proficiency. It is part of the Academic English Program, one of three language programs offered at INTO OSU. The program’s purpose, and thus the course’s, is to “create opportunities for international students to develop the academic, critical thinking, and linguistic skills necessary to succeed in a US university.” In a given term, there are usually 4 to 5 sections of this course, each with around 18 students. Our student population at this particular level in this particular program is primarily Saudi and Chinese, but also contains students from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Russia, Turkey, Oman, Kuwait, and the U.A.E.

In terms of curriculum, students are introduced to or continue their study of the forms and applications of the simple present and past, present and past progressive, future, and present perfect verb tenses. Similarly, students develop their proficiency in these grammar structures through a variety of reading, writing, and speaking activities. Currently, they are formally assessed using paper-based quizzes and exams (midterm and final).

The plan for this hybrid course is where it gets a little murky… and exciting. The Academic English Program is in the process of merging the 3 credit hour Grammar course with its corresponding 6 hour Reading and Writing course. Doing so will create a 9 hour Reading, Writing, and Grammar course, but much remains to be solidified as these two courses have been functioning independently since INTO OSU’s beginning. Essentially, how grammar, reading and writing will be holistically integrated has yet to be determined. This was a major push for me to develop this hybrid course.

In creating a hybrid/blended learning grammar course, I am able to provide a platform for integrating the grammar components of level three with reading and writing. What I would like to do is develop a course that provides the basic, skill-focused elements of level 3 grammar (accessible on Canvas as modules). That is, I would like to try to develop materials that are as removed from theme driven delivery as possible. By creating minimally themed grammar material, we will be able to apply it to whatever themes are present in the reading and writing material.

Of recent, I feel our international students are overloaded and confused by the myriad of themes in their reading and writing, grammar, listening and speaking, and elective classes. Unlike domestic students, they are learning language and content on a much larger scale. True, domestic students must learn jargon and content specific vocabulary in new fields of study, but this in no way compares to the amount of language learning required of international students. Furthermore, students in the Academic English program are not here to learn content yet; they are here to learn language, and in this case academic language. So, what I want to do is create a more focused attention across the students’ level of study, and make it easier for them to grasp and retain key components of not just grammar, but language as well.

How this translates into online activities is again, murky… but exciting. I see the discussion forum as a major tool for students to present and discuss particular grammar points, provide authentic examples, and peer review one another’s work. I am also excited about the ability to use Google Drive within Canvas, through collaborations, because I see this as an opportunity for students to build grammar guides/resources for future students. It also prepares them for software/computer/LMS literacy that they will be expected to have when they are university students.

In class, I envision students presenting the grammar resources they’ve created online, along with developing and deploying activities in the classroom. The classroom is also an ideal place for students to produce dialogue using specific grammar structures. They will also be able to collaborate on analysis of course text, and present their findings to other students.

Essentially, I see the Canvas and the online hemisphere of learning as a way to house information about the grammar structures, and a place for the more wrote aspects of grammar learning and understanding to occur. Flipping the grammar components will then open up F2F time for active application of the grammar structures, as well as allow for a deeper analysis of reading and writing material through the lens of grammar.

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4 Responses to Visions of a hybridized grammar (and reading…and writing) course

  1. Isabelle Brock says:

    This is just so fascinating, Eric. I’m so interested in this idea of the 9-hour Reading, Writing, and Grammar course, and in the unique challenges the demographics of your course present. I think allowing students to learn in a hybrid format will be so useful, especially as I think about the sheer amount of knowledge necessary for effective writing (and speaking!) and the ways an online component will help students gain and manage that knowledge. The discussion board, the collaborative possibilities… and so much more! Yes, links to online writing labs! Do you have a few in particular you like? Probably Purdue’s… but I’ve also found this one through Excelsior College helpful:

  2. Isabelle Brock says:

    Rats, that link to the Excelsior OWL doesn’t work. But maybe check it out if you haven’t seen it before–lots of good specific examples for students of all levels. 🙂

    • Eric says:

      I tried the link… it worked!

      I’ll have to devote some time to this resource, as it seems ripe with grammar and writing related material. Thanks for sharing!

      So far, I’ve just had time to rock out to the “Quotations” song.

  3. Carmel Finley says:

    I can see that it is very difficult for foreign students learning English to encounter the LMS. The task seems to be to turn the LMS into a student’s best friend, by providing additional content or background (at least that is how I read the post). There are two challenges here, providing the class content, but also access to additional content that students might need.

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