How to teach grammar in the classroom?I am in a vocational school, and the students are very poor in grammar.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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I use a book called Daily Grammar Practice. We start with one sentence on Monday and follow it through the entire week. On Monday, we identify the parts of speech. On Tuesday, we identify sentence parts. On Wednesday,  we identify clause(s) and sentence types. On Thursday, we capitalize and punctuate. On Friday, we diagram. There are always embedded grammar lessons in the sentence as well. This enables emersion on a weekly basis without overkill. It also allows the students to learn new information without using a new sentence each day.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I tend to agree with mwestwood on this one.  the rules are important to give some structure to their learning, but reading good writing is really the most helpful models they can see.  Young children just acquiring language pick up many grammar and syntax elements just by listening to patterns.  They know, for example, that most verbs are conjugated regularly:  today I walk, yesterday I walked.  No one teaches them that rule, yet they apply it across the board until someone corrects them  They'll almost always say "today I singed" or "I runned fast," not knowing these verbs are irregular.  The same principle is true for those trying to learn any language well.  They'll model what they read and hear.  And, since we can't count on television or movies to set the standard, books it is.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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From my teaching GED classes and using its entry testing, I have noticed that people who scored moderately well to well on the writing sections of the tests, were usually people who liked to read.  Reading is grammar in action.  If the students have only their ears to teach them, they will repeat constructions that they have heard, which may easily be substandard.  However, if they read, and read, and read, they will see their language being used and pick up structures just from having seen them enough times.  Also, their vocabularies will improve.

The amount of reading that students do nowadays is pathetic compared to two decades ago.  Surely, there is a connection to the good reader with the good speaker and the good writer.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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About 3 years ago I started  using what I believe is referred to as "DGP" - Daily Grammar Practice.  I'm sure you could google it to find the curriculum (given to me by another teacher in the form of photocopies) - basically it is a 5 or 10 minute grammar warm up.  You use the same sentence for 5 days, and each day you do something different with it.

Monday - label parts of speech
Tuesday - label parts of the sentence
Wednesday - identify phrases and clauses
Thursday - add punctuation
Friday - diagram the sentence

I deviated from the exact instructions a lot - but if you use the curriculum, they provide handouts so all students are using the same labels (very mathematical, I agree with the first post) and the sentences get harder each week.

Like I said, you can probably find SOMETHING online to give you a start.  Our school district was talking about adoping it at the middle school level (which would be awesome).  As students got used to it, I personally noticed a dramtic improvement in ability to find gramatical mistakes in writing.

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crmhaske | College Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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besure77 - I wanted to mention that psychology research into language acquisition has shown that correcting a person's grammar actually has very little effect on their grammatical ability.  It doesn't make it any worse so it doesn't hurt, but of all the ways to help someone improve their grammar correcting them during normal conversation does very little for improvement.  Even grammatical corrections in written work contributes little to improving grammar as most students skip over these corrections when reviewing their returned work.

The problem with correcting a person's grammar is it only tells them what not to do, and only what to do in very specific situations.  It doesn't teach them the rule behind it, and how to apply it.  The most effective way to improve a person's grammar is through instruction, repetition, and practice.  Even young children don't learn to improve their grammar by the adult setting the example, they learn in the classroom.  I will search my university's journal library to find some academic sources on this research for you to take a look at if you are interested.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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I also find that grammar is definitely an area in which students need improvement. I believe that one of the most effective ways to teach grammar in the classroom is to set an example. When I am teaching children (or even talking to other adults), I always make sure that I am speaking properly. It is amazing how our students can learn from us. In addition, I always make sure that I correct them but I make sure not to do it in a way that will embarrass them. This is very important.

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crmhaske | College Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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I personally would teach it no differently than how one teaches mathematics: provide a set of rules, and how to make use of them step-by-step starting with the most basic of rules, and building in complexity as you move forward.  Once a foundation has been built, you can than move into the exceptions to grammatical rules.

In a vocational school I think it would be important to stress why proper grammar is important in any vocation.  If you can apply the usage of proper grammar to success in the workforce your students will likely be more motivated to learn it.  You can start with the importance of proper grammar in a cover letter and resume in securing a good job.

The cause of their poor grammar probably stems from learning English in a school that stresses the whole-text approach to learning to read.  Students who learn to read in this way are usually poorer in spelling and grammar than those who learn to read using the basic skills method.  Like in mathematics the best way to teach proper grammar after the fact is to break language down into it's component parts dissecting it out of context, and then putting it back together in context.

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feiseyguang | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

besure77 - I wanted to mention that psychology research into language acquisition has shown that correcting a person's grammar actually has very little effect on their grammatical ability.  It doesn't make it any worse so it doesn't hurt, but of all the ways to help someone improve their grammar correcting them during normal conversation does very little for improvement.  Even grammatical corrections in written work contributes little to improving grammar as most students skip over these corrections when reviewing their returned work.

The problem with correcting a person's grammar is it only tells them what not to do, and only what to do in very specific situations.  It doesn't teach them the rule behind it, and how to apply it.  The most effective way to improve a person's grammar is through instruction, repetition, and practice.  Even young children don't learn to improve their grammar by the adult setting the example, they learn in the classroom.  I will search my university's journal library to find some academic sources on this research for you to take a look at if you are interested.

Thank you, I haven't noticed the psychological part while teaching grammar. I will pay attention to this part.

feiseyguang's profile pic

feiseyguang | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

About 3 years ago I started  using what I believe is referred to as "DGP" - Daily Grammar Practice.  I'm sure you could google it to find the curriculum (given to me by another teacher in the form of photocopies) - basically it is a 5 or 10 minute grammar warm up.  You use the same sentence for 5 days, and each day you do something different with it.

Monday - label parts of speech
Tuesday - label parts of the sentence
Wednesday - identify phrases and clauses
Thursday - add punctuation
Friday - diagram the sentence

I deviated from the exact instructions a lot - but if you use the curriculum, they provide handouts so all students are using the same labels (very mathematical, I agree with the first post) and the sentences get harder each week.

Like I said, you can probably find SOMETHING online to give you a start.  Our school district was talking about adoping it at the middle school level (which would be awesome).  As students got used to it, I personally noticed a dramtic improvement in ability to find gramatical mistakes in writing.

I think I can put it into use next semester. It's very practical for my students. They like acitivities.

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