Grammar and the Teaching of Writing: Limits and Possibilities

Grammar and Writing

The beginning of this piece reminded me about Anne Curzan’s article “Says Who? Teaching and Questioning the Rules of Grammar”. The rules that are stated, like “never use the word ain’t,” are similar to the ones state in Curzan’s piece (Noguchi 2). However, just as Curzan asked this question, I will ask it again: Who makes these rules? Why can’t we challenge the “teachers of traditional grammar” (2)? I mean just as Richard Bach said it: “Argue for your limitations and they are yours!” He may not have meant it at all in regards to academia, but it can still be applied in this case. We can challenge the way grammar is being taught and put a little more time into the writing aspect. It does not mean we have to discard grammar instruction.

I agree with Noguchi that we should not rid grammar instruction from our curriculum –grammar instruction is needed and this article has only shown that even though the topic is debatable, grammar instruction is needed if writing improvement is to ever be seen from the future generations. It simply needs to be taught in a different way –even though it is not that simple to change teaching styles.

Student interest can be applied to many different categories, not just grammar instruction. I’ve seen it before, and it does not mean they are not learning it all adequately –students are able to comprehend calc and science, even though their interest level may not be high. Grammar instruction, if taught by rote memorization and “endless drills and exercises” is similar to the same technique used to teach calculus (5). That is the technique that was used to teach me calculus and even though my interest level was high, there are still a few parts that I do not exactly understand quite adequately –interest level cannot be used to argue the fact that students’ writing is not improving because of their lack of interest in grammar. A lot of the statements made by Noguchi, in my opinion, felt a bit ignorant. “Put in more general terms, if a body of knowledge is too difficult to learn, it obviously will not be learned, and if it is not learned, it obviously cannot be applied successfully” (6). Is it obvious that if something is too difficult to learn, it will not be learned? No. A lot of the times I feel as though many people underestimate the intelligence and motivation of students. I mean this article was a bit difficult to understand when the research data was presented; however, did I ‘adequately’ understand it? Yes. Did I learn a great deal and form my own opinions on grammar teaching? Yes.

Aside from the ignorance, I think that a lot of the writing improvement can be done through proofreading –something that many students are too lazy to do because of their lack of understanding it. The more they are able to proofread, the better they will become at catching their grammatical errors. Proofreading is a necessity in order to become a better writer –how else are we supposed to learn from our mistakes if we cannot catch them ourselves?

The bottom line is that grammar instruction needs to be taught with writing activities so that not only does the writing improve, but also so that the students are able to see the grammar mistakes for themselves. As a tutor, I would strongly emphasize the importance of proofreading, even if it may come off as a boring process/step to my student(s).

-Henna Tailor

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One Response to Grammar and the Teaching of Writing: Limits and Possibilities

  1. 5/5
    Excellent response. I totally agree that correcting you own mistakes is crucial.

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