Effective of Grammar to Improve Writing

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In seeking to address the effectiveness of traditional grammar to improve writing, I found the technicalities of Rei Noguchi’s argument in concurrence with my experience. It would make sense if style is the only area in which writing and grammar significantly overlap. Further, I would not argue that traditional grammar instruction might often fail to improve writing, calling for a few amendments to the current teaching method. However, I noticed this excerpt focusing a lot on the specifics of what aspects of grammar can be cut out, as opposed to other options for promoting change within the current system, or improving how it can be implemented. Additionally, the benefits grammar has to offer outside of writing improvement are not explored at all in this reading, which may have more impact than one initially suspects, and should therefore be taken into consideration.

The specific proposals regarding what should be changed in teaching grammar seem centered around identifying the most important aspects and cutting others out. While I understand how useful it can be to prioritize, I think the importance of various aspects of grammar is highly opinionated, and not as standardized one might initially assume. I think there are more effective ways to change current methods. Something easy to start could be teaching grammar through books. Since there’s a big gap between the teaching and its implementation, it may be beneficial for students to see how the rules are used in context. Many older books encompass the more traditional rules, and so through reading them students can gain a deeper understanding of grammar without having to eliminate the tradition that many people still value. I think all of the rules are important in their own way, and just because some are less commonly seen does not mean they should not be learned. Like in most math or history lessons, not everything learned is applicable in everyday life, but we expose ourselves to as much as we can. If anything, grammar is merely another way to practice how to learn, memorize, and retain knowledge. It teaches a good work ethic. There are so many aspects of school that students will find boring, so its important that they learn how to take those parts as well and still be disciplined enough to get through them. However, if the students cannot pay attention because of how boring they find it, it may be more useful to move around the grades in which grammar is taught. For example, if grammar was taught two years later than it currently is, students may have acquired more of these rules naturally, and subsequently be able to pick it up faster, ultimately reducing the time it takes to teach each lesson. Another way grammar could be taught is to combine it with communication classes, focusing on the diction of it. While this would not work for all aspects of grammar, it could solve some of the problem of implementing it by allowing students to practice it. Communication classes in themselves would be beneficial to start at an earlier age anyway. It would not sadden me to change the current curriculum, but I would be opposed to just cutting out certain aspects altogether, when there are clearly ways to keep more of it by combining it with other subjects or switching the ages its taught at. (Just to quickly add, due to the pressure of standardized tests such as the SATs in today’s day and age, I think this problem would be more successful by first removing it from these tests before persuading the public to change it.)

There are certain benefits I see to make learning grammar necessary aside from writing improvement. I propose that due to the fact our world is growing increasingly interconnected globally, that a second language be a mandatory requirement taught at a young age when it’s easiest to pick up. Understanding the traditional grammar rules in our own language, and why it’s set up the way it is makes learning a second language much more possible (and effective). It’s like a prerequisite for what I see to be a major part of our future. Similarly, when I think back to my elementary school, I remember the few students in my class every year that moved here from another country, or spoke a different language at home and therefore were not fluent in English. These students deserve the same chance to succeed, and I believe this situation is surprisingly common. Students who lack basic grammar skills deserve an equal opportunity to explore and understand the English language, and there is no doubt in my mind that grammar lessons would fail to help them improve their writing. Furthermore, it surprises me that these conclusions are so drastic. I don’t really believe the difference of a few hours here and there will cause any major impacts. When I think back to all the things I learned in school that were studied for a short period of time, I forgot most of them. The things that stuck were, for example, math because it was continually referenced and added onto previous concepts. It’s the consistency of the grammar we teach that really make the difference, and it’s for this reason that I am all for implementing a more uniform or standardized curriculum for grammar (as opposed to leaving it up to the teacher’s discretion). (Many of the conclusions in the study seem too drastic in my mind to be caused by the difference of a few hours here or there).

I see many more reasons to learn grammar aside from the part of it that’s tied to writing. So I will mention one more in this short (or what’s supposed to be short), blog. There is a certain stigma tied to speech. The way one writes or acts shows a level of respect. In the German language for example (my minor), you address your friends (“du”) differently than you address parents, teachers, elders, or people you look up to (“Sie” or aka English might use mr. or mrs./ms., for a comparison). The way one writes or speaks shows a certain level of respect and knowledge. It shows what’s proper. The use of “may I” verses “can I” implies two different meanings, which ultimately evoke different feelings. I am a firm believer that that’s one specific area we should not let the lines blur. It’s extremely easy to learn the difference. Saying may I is a lot more respectable, and attached to a much happier, if you will, exchange of feelings (or stigma). The feelings that words evoke are becoming increasingly overlooked, which, in turn, diminishes the ability of words to send their full message (convey feelings).

For a quick connection to my current tutoring experience, I agree with the discussion at the bottom of page 7, where it references brainstorming and group discussions. The biggest problem all of my students have in common seems to be, in my opinion, their lack of thinking: Questioning, judging, and developing an opinion. Too many students have yet to develop the skills necessary to write the essay. And those who have possess the best essays and receive the highest grades. (A few final notes, I couldn’t help but question the validity of the Connors-Lunsford study since spelling was #1. It just doesn’t seem realistic to me since most people use computers today, which correct spelling for you (also consider typos). Is it possible that these are accidents and not people who don’t know how to spell? I feel like so much time is focused on spelling, at least for me growing up, which makes it an area that just about everyone can apply up to a certain level. My last comment is regarding the Hairston’s study. I think we should trust professionals as opposed to the general public. (I don’t think the gender bias really made a significant difference.) Social science and surveying is never perfect. I thought it was fairly representative. Also, the professionals are the one’s who, generally speaking, are hard workers and well-educated, as opposed to trusting people who never went to college or learned the rules to begin with. It makes sense to distribute the test to people who have the most influence, education, and success.

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About lamendel

Hi my name is Lauren, and I'm a junior at Rutgers University! I'm very excited to start blogging on wordpress.com for the plangere internship! I'm an Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behaviors major (EPIB international) with a minor in German! In addition to my love for animals and the environment, I'm secretary of Queens Chorale, the oldest all-female, student-run choir on campus. In my spare time I love to run and play soccer and write!! Again, I'm excited to be a part of this internship and develop new life skills, make new friends, and keep up with my writing!
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2 Responses to Effective of Grammar to Improve Writing

  1. Pingback: Productive « wickedcoolflight

  2. Pingback: Back to the drawing board « wickedcoolflight

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