Everyone has a native language, no matter whether it is English or any other language. And every language has a grammar – a set of rules for putting words into meaningful phrases and sentences. This means that we all have a notion of grammar in our minds, even when we don’t fully realize it. We unconsciously employ grammar to form meaningful utterances and convey our thoughts to other people.
However, we are more used to the oral speech where we are free to use subsidiary means of communicating information – such as mimics and intonation. Written speech, on the other hand, does not allow such means, leaving us with just grammar. Therefore, when we write, grammar is used more heavily than when we talk. Written speech requires a deeper understanding of grammar. The better we understand grammar, the clearer we convey our thoughts in writing.
Many people fall into the error of assuming that they know the grammar of their native language by default, just because it is native. In fact, such knowledge is based on intuition, it is unstructured and insufficient for good writing.
On the other hand, we sometimes have unprofessional teachers who teach their pupils grammar from the basics but never draw any parallels with the students’ already existing oral experience. Such teacher will lead you to the false assumption that grammar has little to nothing to do with the “real” language and can be disregarded. Ultimately, you don’t want to have any more language studies in your life, so you apply to the science department of a university but cannot even get your college application essay written properly. If this happens, it is entirely the fault of the teacher. Sad as it is, it happens more often than it should.
We – teachers and students alike – want to avoid such misunderstandings. And what better way to confront misunderstandings than by developing an understanding – a better and deeper understanding of what grammar is, how it works, and ultimately – why it is important.
As it was mentioned before, grammar is needed to convey your thoughts both orally and (more importantly) in a written form in a clear and comprehensive manner. So, now is the time to take a look at what approach one should take to effectively teach and learn grammar.
In a perfect case scenario, we would start with something that we already know and go from there. A good idea for a student is to just write something, and then, together with the teacher, to analyze what can be improved. For every mistake, you can go into detail regarding why the correct variant is better than the used one. This way, the grammatical terms that the teacher will use while explaining the rules will be a lot more down-to-earth, and thus better understood by the student. It is very important for the teacher to let the student know that grammar is not abstract but quite real and practical.
The latter example deals with a situation where there is only one teacher and only one student. In real life, however, the teacher most often has to work with a group of students. On the one hand, it is bound to have certain complications, but on the other hand, it presents extra opportunities.
It makes the teacher’s job harder because students can make different mistakes. When this happens, the teacher is advised first to pay attention to the most frequent mistakes, and then proceed to the rarer ones.
As for opportunities, the teacher can make the classes more interactive. For example, by offering the students to revise each other’s writing. This way, they will have to explain the rules to each other, and by explaining them they will understand them better.
This is just an example of how the importance of grammar can be explained to the students in such a way so they fully understand it. Once they do, their writing will improve almost automatically.
Sophia Clark is a creative writer from New York who loves to share her thoughts with readers. In her free time, she enjoys writing fiction as well as reading it. Her big dream is to publish a novel one day.