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Negating as a Key to Teaching ESL Grammar

Free «Negating as a Key to Teaching ESL Grammar» Essay Sample

Negating takes one of the most meaningful places in communication, and together with affirmative statements helps the spoken language to function. Negating has some specific features and, therefore, is difficult to apply correctly. While the affirmation reflects the truthfulness and validity of a point, the negative form explains falsity of the subject. People widely use it as a tool for introducing personal viewpoints in everyday communication, both spoken and written. For instance, when a tourist comes to a new country, he/she needs to explain his/her requests clearly to be understood by the service staff or passersby. Otherwise, a newcomer’s requests might be misunderstood or even ignored, which would negatively affect the overall image of the country. Therefore, the importance of negating skills for any person lies in the proper expression of personal thoughts to interlocutors.

Incidentally, the correct use of negation is helpful in gathering information in various surveys where the exact answers are necessary. In the research paper, Dadvar, Hauff and Jong affirm that different forms of negating have non-identical semantic meanings and can even be polar opposite (Dadvar, Hauff, & Jong, 2014). The authors also claim that negating approach in queries helps to get short ‘yes/no’ answers and simplify the study. For example, while trying to define consumer behavior, organizations aim to quiz the widest audience for the least cost. With the application of semantic analysis, they can outline negative particles in the responses of their clients and make a prognosis about their future actions (Dadvar, Hauff, & Jong, 2014). This enables the companies to minimize the expenditures and aggregate huge volumes of data. Thus, the importance of negating may be even in getting precise answers and forecasting social trends.

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To discuss the area of negation deeper and observe it from a grammatical side, it is necessary to define its application in languages. Formation of negating in the English language is complicated. The difficulties are connected with the existing variety of verbs and their forms and, consequently, diverse ways of negation that depend on the verb and tense. Keith Folse in his book mentions that one of the challenges that ESL students face when learning grammar is a gradual process of learning rules of negating and applying them in a conversation (Folse, 2016). Usually, students expect to learn new information on this topic quickly and then practice it after the classes. Although a few of them manage to succeed, they forget the memorized rules on the next day. Therefore, referencing to Folse, the students need to show tolerance and practice for a long time in order to master this grammar aspect (Folse, 2016). The next grammatical peculiarity of negating refers to the form of controversy in English, depending on the formal or informal conversation style. The speaker has to empirically assess the situation and define the way he/she should communicate with his/her partner. The careful estimation will help him/her to avoid typical grammar errors. For example, the usage of contractions can be inappropriate in a formal conversation, but suitable for unofficial occasions. From the teacher’s perspective, the major difficulty is to explain to the students the grammar rules of negating in the simplest way. The educators often want to teach their students all the subtle details of negating process, but forget to outline the main rules. Being objective enough, attentive to the learners’ questions, and determined to clarify misunderstandings are the most important characteristics of a successful ESL teacher.


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In terms of learning and forgetting processes, Adrian Klammer in his research states that during the former, an individual has to accept the lack of knowledge and admit that he/she has insufficiency in some spheres, though it can be hard psychologically (Klammer & Gueldenberg, 2016). In the controversy of egocentric and cognitive feelings, naturally, the latter prevail and the person starts to memorize the information. After some time, the learner still experiences insufficient amount of knowledge, so he/she lacks motivation and partially forgets what he/she has learnt. Due to Klammer’s findings, the loss of acquired expertise results from disconnection between implicit and explicit notions (Klammer & Gueldenberg, 2016). Therefore, the process of learning demands complex and all-inclusive approach that would address all the necessary studying points. Applying this theory to teaching negating, the teacher of grammar should combine formal and non-formal educational techniques in order to evoke the students’ interest. He/she also has to help learners to remember the material by exemplifying grammar rules with poems, life situations or finding another creative approach.

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While teaching negating, the educator should pay students’ attention to common mistakes, thus warning the learners against making them. Specifically, students often use ‘no’ in a negative sentence or after the verb ‘be’ when they have to apply the collocations ‘cannot’ or ‘is/are not’ instead (Folse, 2016). Next, when using negation with several verbs in a sentence, the learners need to put the denying particle after the first verb form. To make it clear with different tenses, in the present simple tense it is correct to negate using auxiliary verbs ‘do’ or ‘does’ (Folse, 2016). By contrast, as it is mentioned in Folse’s book, in the past simple tense, the speaker should combine ‘not’ only with the verb form ‘did’. Finally, in case there is already negation in a sentence, such as ‘does not’ or ‘did not’, the other verb should be used without any ending (Folse, 2016). For example, ‘This company did not receive any profit last year’ – in this sentence, the negation agrees with the past simple tense, so the verb does not have ending.

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When a person begins to learn a new language that is completely different from his/her native one, it becomes a challenge for him/her because he/she is discovering another linguistic system. Within the field of negation, the native language of this exemplified person may contain contrasting by position in a sentence or pronunciation negative particles. Therefore, the learner has to familiarize oneself with the set of grammar rules and invent individual approach to studying the new language. At first, the student struggles with the confusion of changing foreign words to the native ones and pronouncing them with a strong accent. The considerable differences between building a negation form in native and recently discovered language may mislead the student and demotivate him/her. However, with regular exercising and everyday practice of speaking, it is probable to accelerate learning process and get used to new grammar structure.

At the early stages of learning, the teacher has to support the students and tolerate their mistakes, clarify the reason for errors, and explain the proper use of the negative forms. There are two types of tutor’s communication with the students (Sehlaoui, 2007). The first one is in defending personal position with the help of the critical arguments, though this approach is controversial and many people find it unreasonable. The second approach to tutoring suggests giving extra possibilities to the learners by encouraging them to dispute, demonstrate active position, and develop own understanding of the subject (Sehlaoui, 2007). The second type is more appropriate for the researched key since the students will understand the rules of negating better when the teacher explains them simply and patiently. Therefore, the teacher needs to consider the linguistic peculiarities of his/her learners when explaining the ones that exist in English. For instance, the teacher may find and show his/her students the similarities in pronouncing the negation ‘not’ or ‘or’ in English and their first language. The key point that the teacher should outline is the necessity to memorize the rules properly first and associate them with some events, poems, or songs, which will make the learning process easier and less formal. As Tiffini Banks in her research paper mentions, the approaches to learning a foreign languages have changed drastically (Banks, 2008). Teaching of grammar has also advanced, and it is recommended to provide direct instructions and their immediate translation to the native language of the student. Therefore, the teachers need to follow modern trends and use new tools, such as internet and gadgets to apply new approaches and make the educational process easier.

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To reduce the discomfort caused by the abundance of new material, the teacher has to find individual approach to each student, and nowadays, technologies are quite appropriate for this (Banks, 2008). When a student begins to study a foreign language, apart from learning affirmative constructions, he/she should work on the negative structures. At this stage, it is appropriate to compare the new language with his/her native one, look at linguistics from a different perspective, and expand his/her own horizons. Overall, the measure of interaction between a native and English languages directly depends on the chosen method of learning the basic linguistic principles. This choice is made in accordance with the preferences of the teacher. However, for the future success in learning English, it is beneficial to take into consideration the interests of both the teacher and his/her student.

To conclude, the process of learning the negating techniques in English can be difficult for a person whose native language has different negation structures. Misunderstanding with a teacher, lots of unstructured information, and lack of knowledge of the key rules of negating may interfere with the studying and even discourage the student. That is why it is important for a teacher to remain stress-resistant, optimistic, and supportive while communicating with the students. Apart from that, the teacher has to use holistic approach and encourage the students to associate grammatical rules with real-life situations and apply the newly learnt material in spoken language. This would improve the quality of the educational process, making the material easier to memorize and remember. One of the key points this paper suggests is simple explanation of grammar rules and nuances of negating. The teacher should find the easiest ways of explaining the information in order to answer the students’ questions, considering that too detailed explanation can lead to deeper confusion. To prevent the students from making typical mistakes, the teacher can describe them and explain correct usage, which would help the learners to acquire the grammar acumen quicker than their predecessors. The success in learning negating structures will motivate the students to continue studying the language because this field is one of the hardest to understand and, therefore, all further challenges will seem easier. There is a large number of teaching approaches and education techniques, which can be applied in a language-learning process. Similarly, fast advancement in the sphere of technological innovations, teachers can use various devices to facilitate learning. The choice of the most suitable approach depends on the audience and its preferences, and, as a result, the teacher’s approach has to be personalized.

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