The program I teach for is small program that is part of Humboldt State University in northern California. We get about thirty to forty students in our program and they are broken down by level and subject. For instance, we might have a Level 2/3 Speaking Class or a Level 3/4 Writing Class. This type of breakdown has some disadvantages though. Some students begin to expect that because you are teaching a "Grammar" class, for example, you shouldn't be integrating too much writing or speaking into the course, since the class is a grammar specific class. Obviously, trying to live up to such expectations can become restrictive in choosing lesson plans.
Yet despite the drawbacks of having the classes structured in such a way, there are some advantages to having courses that are so specific. For starters, it allows you to become very focused in your preparation of lesson plans and saves you from bouncing back and forth between different resources. I've found a number of survival English role-play exercises to be very stimulating for class conversation starters in my speaking class. So I've built the class around these role-play exercises since they are so effective. And I've really enjoyed watching the students take on the acting role of someone in American society. Of course, part of the high level of interaction might be due to me having mostly Saudi students in this class, and the fact that they come from a culture with a strong oral tradition adds to the level of interest they have in these speaking activities.
Given the success that I've seen in this class, I've struggled in bringing the other classes that I teach up to a more interactive level. I suppose I see the potential after teaching the speaking class and am left wondering how I can increase the level of class participation and interest of the other two classes I teach. Grammar is one I worry about continually since I'm relatively new to the field and I'm learning much of it right along with the students. What this has tended to result in is my being tied to a workbook and the examples and exercises that it uses. To me, this results in the mundane type of teaching that can really kill the mood of a class, which is why I'm searching for ways I can improve it.
So any thoughts and/or advice from those experienced teachers out there would be helpful. I'm wondering what others have found useful in teaching grammar?
I'm looking forward to hearing from others and am happy to be a part of this community.