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Grammar returns to the classrooms - at last!

by: Marilyn Owen (22 September 2014)

Times and fashions in educational methods change like the wind, it seems. Until the 1970s, English grammar formed an essential part of the school curriculum and pupils received a thorough grounding in its complexities. Consequently, it was normal to speak of parts of speech, subject and object or predicate, giving a good idea of how a sentence is constructed. But the downside was that it was often dry, overly academic, and liable to dampen pupils' natural enthusiasm for creative language.

From the mid-sixties and early seventies onwards, teaching grammar in schools became out of vogue. It, along with phonics for reading, was considered too dry and academic, and so, unrelated to everyday life. Pupils were encouraged to write creatively, which was a good thing, but they had little knowledge of how the English language works.

It's not surprising then that standards of written English have dropped and that this, over the decades, has been reflected, for example, in the presentation of students' GCSE and "A" Level examination papers. Indeed, the lack of grammar teaching, accompanied by less emphasis on the importance of spelling and punctuation, has resulted in documents being poorly written, with glaring grammatical and spelling errors. One of the most obvious examples is that so many people seem unable to distinguish between their and there, and they're, and I've lost track of how many times I have seen can't spelt as carnt, which I find unbelievable.

This is why there is such a need for student proofreading services to address these issues and eliminate these kinds of errors from students' work. The fact that so many people, in a variety of professions, are unaware of how English is constructed, means that there is an urgent need to ensure that written documents are properly checked by professional proofreaders and editors – this is so necessary in the case of job applications and CVs, for example, where an embarrassing error may have an adverse impact on the applicant's future job prospects.

The Government has now woken up to the fact that there is a huge gap in people's knowledge of English grammar, and it is in the process of introducing a more thorough curriculum intended to improve pupils' understanding of English grammar, and rectify the situation. However, we won’t see the beneficial hoped-for results for some years to come, so there will continue to be a definite need for proofreading services to address the multitude of mistakes in a variety of documents.

However, if teachers are going to be required to teach English grammar, which they themselves were never taught in school, it looks like it is back to the classroom for them too! Since the Government first proposed these changes in the curriculum to reflect the need for good grammar teaching, many teachers have admitted their own lack of knowledge in the subject.

Grammar teaching in the 21st century will need to be relevant to pupils' lives, and be interesting and engaging. The dry and academic methods used in the last century are no longer relevant to modern society and do nothing for literary creativity. The approach has changed for the better, thankfully, judging by the engaging bite-size lessons currently available on YouTube. The important thing is for pupils to be encouraged to engage in writing first, and then such matters as parts of speech and sentence structure can naturally follow and can be discussed in the classroom.

Views: 1623

Other articles on Punctuation, spelling and grammar and Education

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'Grammar vigilante' at work   What is the difference between proofreading and rewriting?   How to master academic writing   

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Ref: 107 It would be nice to think that we can reach a point where grammar and correct English really matter again.
Garry - 13:15 22-09-2014

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