ESL Teaching, Learning and Long-forgotten Grammar Rules

What's a contraction? or What is a contraction?

There are a million of them used by English speakers to shorten a word or words… Something I do not think I had ever thought about  --  until a lesson on clothing included an exercise requiring the teacher to explain contractions to a class of  English as a Second Language Students. I was stumped.

The dictionary says they're (contraction) used mostly in informal conversation and rarely in formal, written English.

 I'm (another contraction) not so sure that description still holds when pretty much all communication now is informal. I suppose businesses still use formal written English and I'm sure the federal government does.

So  how do you make sense of this for a class of adult  ESL students from at least seven countries, including Myanmar?

Tough one. For that class, I decided to just try explaining that they'll (contraction) need for Wednesday's (not a contraction) lesson.
's = is (or has) as in She's, which means She is OR She has
 I don't remember learning the rules of grammar so every time one of these crazy, peculiarly  English usage things pops up -- I have to look up the rules.

One benefit I hadn't imagined when I started on this ESL teaching venture is how much I'd be forced to review and relearn or even notice grammar (like the number of contractions in this sentence or how I write them without giving it a thought or what they mean or sentence construction).

It's a good think I am open to continuous learning because, with every class, I'm  becoming reacquainted with long-forgotten or filed away rules and exceptions to the rules.

Just for fun, I'm going to run a grammar check to see how many rules were violated in the creation of this post.


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