Ways & How

How to teach nouns

How to teach nouns

We use language day in and day out. Sentences fill our days and we constantly weave them and form them into dialogues and conversations. Our use of language is so common and so frequent that it has become almost subconscious. So, when we are confronted with the task of having to look at language’s structure or parts (such as the parts of speech, for example), and even more so, having to teach those parts, we sometimes find ourselves a bit dumbfounded. Indeed, many are so proficient in using a language but find themselves facing difficulty in explaining how language is used. So, if you would need to know how to teach nouns for example, how should you go about it? It is actually not as hard or as sordid as it may seem. We simply need to step back and recall natural thought processes that our brain utilizes when it needs to understand something. It would be effective to use the tried and tested methods of exposition to explain what nouns are and how they are used. Remember that you may have to alter your methodology depending on the age, background and intellectual level of your students.

Here are some steps to follow in teaching what nouns are:

  1. Define. Firstly, offer one or two good definitions of what a noun is. Start with explaining that it is a word, part of speech or group of words that is used to name a place, thing, person, quality or idea. Find other definitions that work best for you. Use a definition that you find most comprehensible. Remember that if you cannot explain it or even have some difficulty explaining it, your students will not be able to fully understand it.

  2. Outline the types.  Explain that there are different categories under which nouns can fall. Tell them the name for each type and offer a brief explanation on what each is. Different sources may offer different labels or even different classifications. Use a reference that uses standard classifications and that is appropriate for your students.

  3. Compare and contrast. One good way of explaining what a noun is, is by explaining what it is not and by showing how it is different from other parts of speech such as verbs, adjectives or adverbs.

  4. Give examples. Exemplification is a very useful tool in exposition and is not used by itself. Compliment all the steps outlined here by giving examples. Use words that are familiar to them, drawing from a pool of words that you know they use everyday.

  5. Discuss the functions. So, after explaining what a noun is, now it is time to explain what it is for and how to use it. Enumerate and then briefly explain what each function is and how it plays out in the sentential level. For example, you can explain that nouns can be used as direct object, indirect object, objective complement, appositive or object of a preposition. Then, individually discuss how each of these function work. Again, remember that different sources may have different names for the functions. Try to be as standard as possible.

  6. Visual reinforcement. Visual reinforcement is very useful for children, especially, but works for adult students as well. One can use flash cards or actual objects to associate with the abstract concept of a noun so as to give a more concrete understanding of what it is. For adults, you can come up with a powerpoint or visual presentation with graphics and images so as to facilitate better recall and comprehension.

  7. Use games. Again, this method works wonders with children but also works well for adults, provided you choose age-appropriate games. Teaching through games relaxes the mind and puts the pressure off learning, yielding an atmosphere conducive to learning.

  8. Sentence Construction. Lastly, let them use nouns in a sentence. This final step will determine if they have fully understood what a noun is and if they know how to use it.

In knowing how to teach nouns, remember that the important and determining factor for your methodology is the type of students you have. Make sure you understand their backgrounds and their leaning processes and abilities.


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