Breaking down grammar to build up writing

Noguchi’s essay reminds me of a conversation I had in the car with my boyfriend, where we were discussing grammar. He asked, “Who really remembers specific grammatical terms anyway? I mean seriously, who remembers what a preposition is?” This essay asks the same – how necessary is it for one to memorize what a noun, verb, etc. is?

As Curzan states in the previous reading, the rules of grammar exist as a guideline. Both Noguchi and Curzan are in agreement that language is ever-changing. Furthermore, the students who are being taught the curriculum are changing as well. From varying cultural backgrounds, to different modes of communication – there are several factors that shape the development of language today – most of which are not taught or not even permitted in the classroom.

Noguchi gives three probable reasons as to why teaching grammar is ineffective: it is too difficult to learn or master, even if it is learned, students aren’t givent adequate writing examples of the grammar rules, or the rules being taught just can’t be “transferable to writing situations” (4). This leads one to ask – why is that so? Noguchi says that grammatical rules are usually abstract and imprecise (5). Even with concrete examples, there are too many exceptions. Even if students learn those rules and exceptions, they have trouble applying it to their writing. And so on and so forth. What then is the solution? Is it possible for a student to master writing without knowing these grammatical rules?

Again, it becomes an issue of teaching. There’s always something to worry about: grammar, style, content, and overall quality. What factors does one judge these elements on? Is it, again, based on rules? Or based on the student? The teaching of grammar cannot be eliminated altogether. Grammar, along with other rules of writing, serve as tools that can strengthen a student’s overall work. Without a proper grasp on grammar, a student cannot recognize or correct his mistakes. What then, can be done so that these students understand what they are learning? A proper mix of abstract and concrete examples and activities should be beneficial – but most of all, it is understanding personally how a student learns. Noguchi’s suggestion of teaching grammar in categories provides a starting point. She explains that by tackling smaller bits of material, students can focus on how the grammar functions in their writing. From there, teachers can work with the students in smaller groups, recognizing strengths and weaknesses that should be addressed personally, and as a whole. By breaking down concepts, working directly with students, and identifying specific writing difficulties, teachers can come up with more innovative and customized ways to engage their students in learning grammar.

Hanna Adao

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2 Responses to Breaking down grammar to build up writing

  1. Pingback: THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF WRITING | No damn blog

  2. Pingback: How do you approach grammar? « Polyglot Posturings

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