Matt Done: The Grammar of Conversation

Developing our students' speaking skills is a top priority for many of us. We teach them expressions and vocabulary they can use in various speaking contexts. We help them with intonation and pace. We have them socialize and give presentations. But what if the grammar we have been teaching them all this time hasn't been the grammar they need to speak the language?  


For years, textbooks and grammars of English were based on a written model of English. However, studies carried out in the past 20 to 30 years have shown that the grammar we use in spoken conversation is sometimes quite different from that found in written English.

With this difference in mind, and considering that many language learners are motivated by a desire to have conversations in English, it is probably useful to expose our learners to the reality of spoken grammar.

This session will examine the features of spoken grammar, discuss its value in the language classroom, and present some practical ideas on how we can present it to our learners.


Matt Done is a director of studies, teacher, and teacher trainer based in Malta. He has been involved in ELT for 16 years and has a special interest in lexical teaching and the pedagogical application of corpora.

PowerPoint (attachment below)
Recording on YouTube

PDF icon the_grammar_of_conversation.pdf2.53 MB