Shoebox is . . .
Focussed on what's important
Modern texts look at grammar first, and they do it very well indeed. Shoebox has no desire to re-invent that particular wheel. However, grammar is not a subject for study.
Grammar is a tool to express life.
The modern ESL student has probably far less interest in studying the past participle as he does in telling you about the fantastic party he went to on the weekend, or how he needs a job now, or what his future plans and dreams are. His life is important and relevant, and he wants to know how to talk about it.
So Shoebox looks at ESL teaching very differently.
It's really very simple. Instead of focussing on grammar first, Shoebox concentrates on life first, specifically, students' lives. It gives students the grammatical tools they need to talk about their lives (and everything else), and shows them how to use these tools. Using Bloom's higher-order thinking (see the Taxonomy at left), Shoebox students learn how to use these tools to talk about to their own lives. As a result, they learn not only how to make relevant, authentic language, but also to remember it.
A complete teaching system
Shoebox combines both structured, student-focussed content and discovery-based methodology in an holistic, structured and logical way. It includes and teaches (in alphabetical order), adjectives, adverbs, all tenses, articles, common verbs (have, go, get, come, take, make, do), conditionals, counters, defining relative clauses, dependent clauses, determiners, gerunds, infinitives, main clauses, main clauses, main clauses, modals, non-defining relative clauses, gerunds, nouns, noun types, phrasal verbs, pointers, prepositions, punctuation, quantifiers, verbs, verb types.
Even better, it ties them all together so that they all fit. Everything relates to everything else. Everything makes sense.
Grammar should be relevant. It should be simple. And it should be fun.
Overseas students come to an English speaking country to learn English for many reasons: work, a visa, marriage or relationships, to relocate, for travel or just for fun. Many of them have heard that English is one of the most difficult languages on Earth, full of irregularities and exceptions.
The Shoebox System, however, shows students that English grammar, the foundation of the language, is not as complex, fuzzy and full of strange exceptions as they might have heard. Instead, it uses discovery, stories and graphic charts to reveal some very simple principles, and then shows students how to build their knowledge of English on these principles.
Students are their own walking, talking, breathing resource centres. They have a wealth of stories built in, stories that are relevant and exciting, stories that they would love to know how to transform into English.
It is pointless to teach grammar unless it has a practical purpose. Most students only enrol in two types of English courses:: Exam or General. Leaving aside exam courses, which are well catered for, the purpose of General courses is to show students how to transform their own life stories into English stories.
Shoebox shows them how to do this. Without textbooks, worksheets, CDs, websites or any other traditional teaching device, it shows them how to use Bloom's higher order thinking to transform their own mother-tongue stories into English stories.
In a Shoebox lesson, students discover how sentences work with nothing more than laminated cards, textas and discussion. Because the emphasis is not so much on the teacher as on the students, it is the students who are learning, not the teacher teaching, As a result, the students are engaged and active and learning.