Wordplay is a blog project featuring posts from students enrolled in ENG 320 Grammar and Linguistics (Fall 2019)

Grammar Instruction in the Classroom

by Shauna Coburn

Have you ever thought about the grammar instruction you were given as a child? Were you taught countless rules that you could never remember, or were you taught simply the basics? I know that I was taught more grammar rules than I can even remember. There are some rules that stick with me when I am writing things in daily life, but there are other rules that seem new to me when I hear them now. There are also rules that have changed since I was first learning them. The Oxford Comma for example was always used when I was younger, but now it is optional. Since I grew up using the comma, I am stuck using it forever, because for me it is wrong to skip that comma. The things that students learn about grammar when they are growing up can impact their writing and way of thinking long term. So, what should be taught to young individuals about grammar? This blog takes a look at the perspective of educators who teach grammar in their classroom.

Image Credit: Hadi Partovi, Code.org

The idea of teaching grammar in the classroom used be very obvious to teachers. Teachers felt that students benefitted from the formal instruction, and they learned it along side writing and reading. However, studies have been done now that show that students’ writing hasn’t necessarily been affected by grammar instruction in a positive way. Because there were so many teacher and students uninterested in the grammar instruction, they were happy to find that they may not need these dull lessons any longer. However, this new found idea of not teaching grammar was met with challenges because teachers are still expected to correct their students’ writing. Some teachers turned to idea of teaching grammar when it could be shown in contexts to students, rather than having a formal lesson about grammar concepts.

The question remained of whether the grammar instruction was needed in the classroom. Some schools chose to drop the formal grammar instruction, but other schools felt that it was necessary for their student’s success. I wasn’t really surprised to read that most all teachers felt that grammar still needed to be taught in some way. Students will eventually run into situations where they will need to know some of the grammar basics, and if they don’t learn it when they are young, then it will be more challenging for them when they are older. 

The article that I read about explains why there could be differing opinions among teachers and researchers on the topic of grammar. There are most certainly different definitions of the word grammar. So, the research that is completed could be based on different uses of grammar within the classroom. Teachers know that there must be some form of grammar teaching, because without it, students writing wouldn’t be at an acceptable level.

I think that some level of grammar is necessary for students to understand the basics of writing. I think that each teacher should be able to determine the level of grammar taught within their classroom, and they should be able to pick how they present that knowledge to their students. The article that I read has interesting viewpoints from teachers that have had years of experience and have been able to see the research done over the importance of grammar. I think my favorite aspect of this article is when it discusses how some of the research could have been looking at grammar exercises, and how the exercises are perhaps not that helpful. I like the idea of teaching grammar in context. As a future educator, I think it is important to keep all of the important aspects of learning in mind.


References:

Petruzzella, B. (2019, November 10). Grammar Instruction: What Teachers Say. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/820510


Shauna Coburn is a junior at Chadron State College. She was born and raised in Rushville, NE. She is studying Elementary Education and would love to teach in the lower elementary grades one day.

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