how to teach english grammarhowto teach english grammar

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ajonu79 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have used something in my upper-level English classes that has worked very well.  It's called Daily Grammar Practice, and is a program written by Dawn Burnette.  I first discovered this at an NCTE convention in Nashville a few years ago. 

Basically, you have one sentence a week and each day you do something different with it, though I changed the order a bit. 

On Monday, you correct capitalization and punctuation.  This seems pretty easy, but you'd be surprised at how many errors students don't catch.  Tuesday is parts of speech.  Every word in the sentence is labeled.  Wednesday is labeling sentence parts and phrases.  Thursday is picking out clauses and sentence types.  Friday is diagramming, but I choose not to do this.

There are very good, detailed notes pages for each of these days that students are able to use while they complete the corrections/labeling. 

Students may get tired of doing this, but it cements the information into their brains better than a two-week grammar unit would.  After 12 weeks of this, they become very good at it.  And I have to say, it has improved my grammar skills tremendously.   


sarahc418 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I work with what proves to be major problems for them with their papers. For example, I noticed many students having difficulty with hanging modifiers on their last essay, so we worked on hanging modifiers in class and corrected their own sentences from their own papers. It was real world examples of how they made mistakes and it was a lesson in editing.

I like to get them up to move a lot when we are doing grammar too. I give them sheets of paper with words and punctuation on it. Then we form sentences with people and the words and discuss where to put the punctuation. It gets the students involved, up and moving and the students with the comma when we move independent clauses and dependent clauses REALLY gets the point with all the moving she does.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Teaching grammar in short practices every day as post #2 mentions does help.  In addition, pointing out grammatical errors to students in their journal entries, paragraph writing, etc. seems much more effective than doling out worksheets or completing exercises from books. Another way to teach from context is to have students find parts of speech in newspapers, or in passages from short stories, etc.

Oddly enough, having students diagramming sentences often appeals to male students with mathematical minds.  This "architecture" of sentences has interested some very reluctant learners in the past.  Of course, it is good for teaching the structure of English and it also aids those learning foreign languages.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you have the time in your schedule, I think teaching all of the parts of speech is valuable.  If the students have a decent understanding of direct objects or prepositional phrases, for example, they will have a much easier time with a usage issue such as pronoun agreement.  If you teach subordinating and coordinating conjunctions, they will have a much easier time learning when to use and not use commas to separate clauses.  Direct instruction of grammar is out of favor, and I would agree if the purpose is a "trivial pursuit" of the parts of speech, but not if there is building toward creating better sentences, sentence patterns, and better usage on the whole.

shaimaaessam | Student

Grammar is one of the hardest parts of writing to teach to students, and is the part that most students find uninteresting.teachers can try to make grammar fun for students.

Variety is really the key. There's nothing wrong with mechanical exercises – gap-filling, sentence transformation and so forth. These can help learners to grasp the form of a complex structure at the outset without having to think too much about the meaning. But it's important to move on to activities where the structure is used in more interesting and realistic ways. I like structure-oriented problem-solving activities and quizzes, games, picture-based work, text-based work, role-play, exercises that get students using the structure to talk about themselves and their ideas, exercises that combine grammar practice with vocabulary learning, and internet-exploration activities, to name just a few approaches.

kate1993 | Student

I obviously cannot give you a full lesson plan on eNotes, but one tip I will give you is to have an open mind.  Not every student in your class will be a straight A student, but they are not all going to be slackers, either.  Give your students a chance.  Don't coddle them, of course, but let them learn at their own pace.  If they have questions, answer them.  If they need help, help them.  Be there for them.  Yes, your students will aggravate you at times and yes, you will probably want to yell at them from time-to-time, but always be there to help.  Your students may not care about you, but you should always care about them.