Time to Teach Teens: Grammar McNuggets on the Last Day!

Chicken McNuggets (Photo by Fritz Saalfeld)

Scott Thornbury: (Quote) “Stephen Krashen once said (only half-jokingly, I suspect) that, more important than having new ideas is giving old ideas new names. With that in mind, I was reminded recently that it was 10 years ago that I coined the term “grammar McNuggets” (in a talk at IATEFL Dublin in 2000). Essentially, there is nothing new in the view that grammar is artificially packaged into bite-sized chunks for the purposes of teaching: William Rutherford had used the term “accumulated entities” in a book in 1987, and who knows how long the term “discrete items” has been around? So, why “grammar McNuggets”? (End of Quote) (The entire fantastic post on Grammar McNuggets can be seen at Scott Thornbury’s excellent blog, here: G is for Grammar McNuggets


What’s the connection to my teens? Well today was their last day with me. Freedom! No more Mr. Baker, at least, not until school starts again.

After two weeks of communicative speaking activities, I decided I had been remiss. Something, somewhere, was nagging me in the back of my mind.

Tom’s mind: 🙂 Your students haven’t had their Grammar McNuggets.

Tom: So what? They have been speaking English just fine all this time. They are great.

Tom’s mind: 🙂 Sure they are. By the way, have you checked your students FCE Exam results yet?

Tom: No.

Tom’s mind: What about the PET exam results?

Tom: No. I’ll get to it next week.

Tom’s mind: OK. By the way, how do you think they would have done on the PET test.

Tom: Speaking would have been fine. They are communicative, negotiate meaning well, great pronunciation, super vocabulary…

Tom’s mind: (interrupting my flow) What about grammar? Speaking is one thing, grammar is another.

Tom: You’ve got a point. Grammar is needed for the test, and I have neglected grammar over the past couple of weeks…

Tom’s mind: You still got this last day to give them some Grammar McNuggets.

Tom: It’s 11:00. Time for class. (walking away)

Tom’s mind: 🙂 Hey teacher! You forgot something. (handing me a box of Grammar McNuggets)

Later in class: Tom: In your very last class we will be contrasting the future with “Will” VS the future with “Be Going to”.

Teens 1, 2, and 3: (Groaning) It’s our last day Mr. Baker.

Me: Grammar is good for you…

***So here’s the question: Would you have given your students a Grammar McNuggets class today? I honestly did….

Best regards,

Time To Teach Teenagers

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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