Many years ago, people in the United States often referred to learning institutions for young people as “grammar schools”, however, that term has been replaced with elementary schools. The original grammar schools in the United States, and in other English-speaking countries, initially taught students the classical languages as preparation for attendance at a university. Before the 1900s In the U.S., the term was adopted by public schools for children from 10 to 14 years of age.
Today, when someone uses the word grammar, they are most likely referring to the language rules used during the writing process for essays, term papers, letters, emails, and for many other types of writing. Unfortunately, with texting seemingly taking over the method of communication for many people, the proper use of grammar is frequently ignored. Capital letters no longer exist, abbreviations are common, commas and periods have disappeared, and sentences have become incomplete phrases.
And when a young student, or an adult, must write an essay, book report, or research paper for a school assignment, they often struggle with the use of proper grammar. Of course, this does not mean proper language and grammar skills are not presented by the school’s English or language teacher, but sometimes correct grammar is taking a backseat to the presented content.
It certainly frustrates language teachers everywhere when a writing assignment of any kind is completed, the content meets the terms of the assignment and other necessary criteria, but the grammar or language errors are prevalent throughout the paper. For those who need to read the content, the errors take away from the otherwise effective essay, report, or term paper.
Imagine riding along a well-paved highway as you enjoy the breathtaking scenery; the changing colors of leaves, the bright blue sky, and the snow-covered mountains some distance away. However, a speedbump appears and you must slow down, there is some debris in the road and you swerve to avoid it, and then a deer darts out of nowhere in front of your vehicle. The breathtaking scenery becomes secondary on your journey.
Grammar mistakes such as spelling and punctuation errors, improper word usage, and poor sentence structure are the speed bumps and distractions readers encounter during an otherwise well-presented writing assignment.
Instructors must continue to impress upon their students the importance of effective grammar skills. Many students have become used to writing text messages or emails and are losing valuable skills they may have been taught in the early grades of elementary school, perhaps before they began texting friends, and are seeking the same shortcuts during writing assignments.
What can a teacher do? Here are 5 simple tips to help students maintain effective writing skills.
- Include correct language and grammar as part of the rubric for a writing assignment.
- Demonstrate examples of poor grammar to show how it can distract from the content.
- Post a “Grammar Tip of the Day” or week, and refer to it once or twice during the school day.
- Use peer reviews allowing students to read content and assist each other during the writing process.
- Always model proper language and grammar skills, this includes the times you may send emails to students, create messages on your website, or write comments on students’ work.
In addition to the tips, there are many helpful programs and websites you and your students can turn to when grammar skills must be taught. For example, some people believe a word processing program with spelling and grammar check will make it less likely students will learn grammar skills. However, the opposite may be true, if students are instructed to read the program’s suggestions for changes, it becomes another path to learning those important skills.
In the same way, Clarendon Learning includes many language lessons to help students learn grammar skills or a site such as Grammarly.com can also become a useful tool and learning strategy to increase a student’s grammar and language skills. You can download the FREE Grammarly plugin here:
- It lays the groundwork for effective communication, whether personal, academic, or professional.
- It keeps people from being misunderstood while expressing thoughts and ideas.
- It helps make content clearer, more readable, and more interesting and adds to the writer’s credibility.
- It allows for the effective flow of reading to take place uninterrupted.
- Proper grammar in writing acts as a segue into effective verbal communication skills.
- It is often a sign of intelligence and education, and others may use it to form a positive impression of the writer.
There are no shortcuts to proper language and grammar skills, but once a student has mastered the variety of rules for good grammar, the skills will remain with them for a lifetime. Yes, grammar is still important, and this fact must be communicated to students of all ages.
What are some fun ways you teach grammar?