The PACE Model: Teach Foreign Language Grammar Inductively as a Concept

The PACE MODEL is a very effective way to use one of the ACTFL Core Practices, which is to teach grammar as a concept and to use the structures in context.  Essentially this means that students should focus on the forms of the grammar structure after they focus on the meaning.  The PACE Model (Donato and Adair-Hauck, 1992) encourages the language learner to reflect on the use of target language forms.  The teacher and learners collaborate and co-construct a grammar explanation after focusing on the meaning in context.  The PACE model provides a concrete way for teaching grammar as a concept.

Teach Foreign Language Grammar Inductively as Concept: The PACE Model (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.comMuch like  authentic language  learning that happens outside of the classroom, this approach stresses that learning happens between people through social interaction (reminiscent of Vygotsky).  The PACE model requires the learner to be an active participant in the language learning process.

The PACE model is a “four-step” process that includes elements that encourage student comprehension and participation. The four stages are:

The teacher foreshadows the grammar structure with an appropriate text, with emphasis on meaning. Typically, the teacher recycles the storyline through pictures, TPR activities, etc., to increase comprehension and student
participation.  The focus is not on the grammar structure at this point, but it is used by the teacher and in the text.

The teacher now has students focus on the language form or structure through the use of images, powerpoint slides or highlighting a particular linguistic form.

After the teacher has focused student attention on a particular target-language form, together they co-construct the grammatical explanation. The teacher provides scaffolding and assists the learners with questions that encourage them to reflect, predict and form generalizations regarding the consistencies of the language.  Students construct their own grammar rules, guided by the teacher who will make sure that they end up with an appropriate explanation.

The learners use the grammatical structures to complete a task relating to the
theme of the lesson, which helps the language remain communicative while also highlighting a particular structure.

Take a look at this activity that works well for the extension step.

Reference: Donato, R. & B. Adair-Hauk. “A Whole Language Approach to Focus on Form.” Paper presented at the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages. San Antonio,Texas (1992).

9 responses to “The PACE Model: Teach Foreign Language Grammar Inductively as a Concept

  1. Alissa Farias

    Do you have an example in Spanish I could see of how you did this in a lesson?

    • Tonja Byrom

      Alissa, I do! Email me of PM me on Facebook for your email and I can send you some models (:

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  3. Great post! I am very much in favor of this method. I think you explained it well! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Manuela Gonzalez-Bueno

    Hello. Thanks for what you do for both students and teachers alike. I have always been interested in the PACE Model and I teach it to my students, pre-service foreign language teachers. You write that “The PACE MODEL is a very effective way to […] teach grammar as a concept and to use the structures in context.” However, I haven’t been able to find any experimental study to prove its effectiveness. Are you aware of any study that does just that? Have you, perhaps, done an experiment to confirm that the PACE Model is in fact effective?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.


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  7. Debora N Armijo

    Hi, as Alissa asked, Do you have an example in Spanish I could see of how you did this in a lesson?

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