Teaching Grammar: A Few Tips

Teaching Grammar: A Few Tips
Explain to students that getting grammar and punctuation right isn’t just about
“following rules.” It affects how people will understand their writing. It affects
how people will perceive them. Most importantly, it affects meaning. Give
examples. A good one to start with:
o Woman without her man is nothing VERSUS
o Woman: without her, man is nothing
Act enthusiastic about grammar and punctuation. Tell students your favorite
punctuation mark. Get excited when they try to use semicolons.
When grading student papers, do not just circle the things that are wrong—or
worse, correct it for the student! Then the student just “fixes” without
internalizing or thinking about it. Instead, put a mark in the margin, such as a
check or an “X” whenever there is an error. This places the burden on the student
to figure out where the mistake is and correct it. Studies show students learn
grammar much faster this way.
Make sure students know that you think grammar is the least important part of
their writing—that’s why it’s listed last on the rubric, after all. But emphasize
that it’s still important, and that with a little work, it will start to seem much
Bring in funny grammar errors from outside class and explain how these mistakes
affect meaning; students get a kick out of this. Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn
Truss is a great source for all things grammatical, and it is hilarious!
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