Grieving the Ending of the Grammar Grind?

Grieving the Ending of the Grammar Grind?

Graduate to Grading, Game Play, and Gift-Giving. 

Much has been said about “Educational Beginnings”—recruiting students, motivating learning, setting a can-do tone, facilitating interaction, and supplying tools needed for success. But what about “Educational Endings”—especially of a serious, sequenced course of study—focused, typically, on English grammar? Are they a welcome, long-anticipated relief? A necessarily sorrowful loss? A source of (happy or painful) memories? Or an opportunity for new—and even more compelling—teaching/learning experiences?

Which of the graphic's “Pieces of Wisdom” reflect your feelings about finishing up grammar instruction at the end of a course, a school session, or a calendar year?

So instead of—or beyond—just being happy about the end of the term, why not give yourself and others the gift of satisfaction—by making concluding activities into spirited sources of good cheer? Sure, the term “grammatical endings” (which usually refers to “suffixes attached to word roots” or “final sentence punctuation”) doesn’t usually inspire or energize. But if these resolutions mean  “effective wrap ups” or “memorable finales,” they can make a great finish.

"Excellent endings" summarize and combine all significant instructional points. They integrate phrasing and sentence structure and rules with language skills improvement. They assess individual and whole-group progress, preparing participants to move on to a linguistically confident future. And they make good use of leftover materials, things, and techniques.    

As educators, trainers, and star students have noted, a “cool down” period is needed to provide psychological closure, add to a semester-long experience and sense of accomplishment, renew interest in the instructional process, and assure the desire to move on to a Better English/Better Life. It may even lead to further study and strengthened connections, encouraging everyone to keep going while keeping in touch.

Endings should be comprehensive—or at least representative of the important knowledge and linguistic abilities acquired during the term. They should invite reflection or evaluation that leads to further advancement. But above all, they should be satisfying, joyful, and optimistic, making it all worth the time and effort. Divided into three generalities, here are some suggestions of what to include in efficient and effective “Grammatical Endings.”  

1. Start Ending the Course with (a Series of) Objective Final Exams. Follow Up with Subjective Integrated Language Skills Activities.

Especially if scores or grades are required in a language class—or just to give learners a sense of satisfaction, devise a (week-long) series of “final testing” that summarizes what had been targeted during the course of study. Here are some sample print or online offerings to use as is—or as models for custom-designed assessment.

The Post-test of Work/Life English Grammar 6: A Competency-Based Grammar (Issues & Answer) is designed to demonstrate the progress text users have made since starting out with a comparable 100-item Pre-test weeks or months earlier. Each of 10 pages correlates with a general area of grammar covered by Chapters 1-10. Each of 10 items on that page corresponds to a text lesson on a different subtopic, numbered 1-100. The printed exam takes up little space. Even so, it assesses grammar acquisition efficiently. For each item, test takers first recognize the one correct option among four. Then they correct the grammar of the remaining three choices. 

Use the Post-test as is or as a template for devising one to correspond more closely to the material you have addressed. Use the after-test, whole-class correction session for review, summarizing, and prep for further study.  

Chapter 10 of the New Scenario Book One-A: Beginning to Use English Grammar in Context: Mastery Tests & Activities. Its setting, “A Party,” pulls together grammar points covered at basic levels (related to the Present Time Frame). The section begins with lists of relevant Grammar Points, Language Functions, and Instructions for Use. The all-encompassing "Scenario" is a festive scene in which guests converse about the subject matter from preceding text chapters. After summarizing the rules of relevant sentence patterns, a Grammar Chart displays examples. Exercises 10-A, *10-A, **10-A, and ***10-A, test comprehension of these in four scaffolded  versions. Activity *10-B invites text users to demonstrate their use of the grammar by continuing the controlled conversations. Activity **10-B challenges them to show what they can do in the real-life environment of the classroom or learning group—or an actual end-of-term party. 

Use the Review & Summary chapter as is or as a template for devising tests closer in content to the material you have addressed. Make use of whole-class follow-up for review, summarizing, and preparation for further study.

Chapter 15 of the New Scenario Book One-B: Beginning to Use English Grammar in Context is another example of a doable final grammar exam, in this case for a course (segment) focusing on Nouns & Determiners. After a summary of grammatical structures involved in “Survival,” test takers choose from five levels of exercise challenge to demonstrate what they know and can do now. They then brainstorm vocabulary and ideas on meaningful topics like Basic Life Necessities, Needs & Wants, Secrets of Happiness, or Human Values. Expressing themselves and exchanging their thoughts orally and/or in writing makes this “final” a satisfying course finale.

Chapter 20 of the New Scenario Book One-B: Beginning to Use English Grammar in Context also offers “Mastery Tests & Activities” in leveled exercise types: Multiple Choice, *Fill-in-the-Blanks, **Grammatical Correction, and ***Make Sentences from Cues. Their context is the lives of previous characters from the text, which leads smoothly to self-expression and exchange of info about People’s (Fictional & Real) Lives. The subject matter of the final multi-skilled activities works particularly well as a “Post-Test” if the course began with true (auto)biographies of the past, present, and future. Its several steps involve collecting data; paired and group exchanges; composition writing, editing, and polishing; co-operative learning and helping; and more.

As before, the Review & Summary chapter can be downloaded, printed, and used as is. Or it can serve as a model for a custom-made Final Exam that progresses from controlled (exercise like) to communicative.


2. Provide Satisfying Class Closure by Transforming Previously Successful Activities into Crowning Culminations.

Many generic educational activity formats work well not only for beginnings and learning in progress but also for satisfying endings. With a few notes for adaptation to educational endings, here are some of these:

Idea G of Doing Without the Photocopier, Grammar Lab will elicit self—and peer—monitoring. Participants will start or continue correcting their own mistakes while helping others do the same. To start, they can write papers with a semester-ending theme, such as “The Most Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned in This Class” or “Where I Plan to Go from Here” or “What I Need to Do for Attain Grammatical Competence.” Meanwhile, teachers, helpers, and students can gather their “grammar surplus”—leftover handouts, torn-out text sections, and useful downloads that they wish to give away. Depending on the grammatical areas writers are advised to work on, the materials can be redistributed or re-gifted. Used as suggested, these papers will help everyone transform his/her grammar weakness into strengths.  

The generic concept of “Information Bingo,”(Idea H of Doing Without the Photocopier) can be revisited or presented as a parting activity instead of an introductory one. Just be sure to substitute questions that relate to evaluation, closure, or future plans, like “What have you learned from these group sessions?” or “What advice (last words) do you have for your teachers and co-learners?” or “How are you feeling about your future, grammatically? Why?” As participants converse, saying good-bye and setting up ways to maintain contact will become instinctive. And the de-briefing steps of the activity will pave the way for further polishing of grammar-related communication skills.

Idea Jj of Still Doing without the Photocopier: Video Grammar-Writing will provide an opportunity to end the course with entertainment, which will both comfort and energize video-savvy language learners. The segment or whole recording (perhaps even one created by students themselves) can be an identified favorite or a story related to the celebration of endings or to special occasions. The follow-up oral and written grammar-based activities will provide ample opportunity for everyone to demonstrate what he or she now knows or can do—and would like to say or do next. 

Idea Oo of Doing Without the Photocopier: Open-Ended Openers can be easily transformed into Captivating Closings by having participants create questions for others that they never had a chance to ask during the term. Probably, questions about endings and/or special occasions should be included, such as “What are your feelings about, expectations of, and views on endings or the holidays? Following some or all of the suggested steps will naturally evoke plenty of oral (and perhaps written) language production, revision, and polishing.


3. Continue or Establish the Pattern of “Go Giving” by “Wrapping It All Up” with Generous Interactive Sharings.

We (veteran educators & materials developers) used to give (self-) teaching Workshops entitled “Use What You Have / Give What You Got / Take What You Need / Share What You Own.” At the end of a series, a course or program, a year, or even (a stage in) a career in education, our goals were—and still are—to “put it all together.” We want(ed) to feel complete and satisfied by “making it come out even” (matching our offerings to others’ necessities and desires—and vice versa). And we hate(d) to waste! 

In that regard, do you know of places or people that support the concept of educational give-and-take? We’d like to gift away many things—printed handouts and other materials, books by various writers, games, puzzles, videotapes (yes— old, obsolete tapings!), and more. If you have ideas on how to “give our treasures a home,” please contact us at

So in conclusion, here are just a few more end-of-blog-post language education activities that incorporate the go-giving spirit:

  • Have a potluck or picnic (appropriately holiday themed) that incorporates real language usage with the grammar acquired during the term. As cooks explain why they chose and what they did to make their dishes, they’re likely to demonstrate mastery of the past tenses, kinds of nouns, adjectives and adverbs, sequencing of instructions, and other useful phrasing + sentence patterns. At such events, relaxed party-goers will exhibit their “expertise” in many areas while interacting, giving, and getting. 

  • When conducting the classic holiday White Elephant Gift Exchange (see a poster displaying its rules below), make sure it incorporates a wide variety of language notions and functions, inviting participants to show off their skills while learning from what others say or write.

  • Accept, feel good about, and make glorious use of some Work/Life English and Authors & Editors gifts. The following whole books or game materials will come in handy when you devise end-of-year activities that fit your own situations, moods, and purposes.

  • Chatzka Games: Imaginative Language Arts Activities Using Odds & Ends offers all sorts of ideas for making good use of everyone’s collected clutter. It contains procedures for Games of Memory, Observation, Association, and Description that will challenge players to apply their knowledge of adjective + noun usage, prepositional phrases, simple present statements of fact, descriptive prose, and related constructions. It ends with instructions for a “Chatzka Gift Exchange,” a linguistic variation of the “Bah-Humbug White-Elephant Holiday Gifting Game” mentioned above. As you clear out items taking up space in your home or office and try to think of how to make use of others’ giveaways, remember: “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” And one person’s teaching leads to another’s learning.

Want to end a class or a year with a splash? For a torrent of color, download the 6 pages (+ one page of card backs) of 54 Talking About Anything Picture-Topic Cards from A to Z. Print them out one or two-sided. Create a few cards of your own that suggest relevant topics for final activities—probably “Endings,” “Winter Holidays,” “English Grammar,” or some such. For colorful final-week interaction and language use, follow the suggestions in the accompanying book: Talk About Anything: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative, Motivating Oral-Language Skills Activities.


Additional Resources:

Here are links to some of the online resources that triggered or contributed to the above concepts and suggestions:


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About Work/Life English
Work/Life English is dedicated to advancing the lives of native English and English as a Second Language (ESL) speakers by improving their English comprehension and communication skills. Over the past 35 years, we have created a variety of fun, effective English language improvement tools for adults, young adults, older youth, youth in transition, teens, secondary students, new Americans, low-literacy learners, and anyone else who can benefit from improved English! For more information, visit

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