Teaching Grammar in Context

Topics: Teacher, Linguistics, Education Pages: 2 (665 words) Published: June 1, 2008
Continuing my investigation into teaching grammar in context, I found my reading divided into text about application and text about theory. Although the theory is interesting (grammar is the confluence of prescriptive systems and descriptive analysis, Edlund), I think the texts regarding application would be most beneficial to me. Contrary to my preference for application, I was intrigued by Constance Weaver’s discussion of the arguments for and against the formal teaching of grammar, citing the contradictory research conclusions reached by Margaret Kolln and George Hillocks. While Hillocks seems to totally abandon the idea that grammar instruction can improve student writing, while Kolln questions the validity of some of the research prior to Hillocks. Kolln suspects that some formal grammar instruction may aid students in writing application as long as it is not taught in isolation. This seems to support the ideas expressed by Peterson in my previous paper. Weaver also comes to the conclusion that “teaching formal, isolated grammar to average or heterogenous classes, perhaps even to highly motivated students in elective classes, makes no appreciable difference in their ability to write, to edit, or to score better on standardized tests.” Weaver makes seven suggestions for grammar instruction: 1. The teaching of grammar as a system should be restricted to elective classes and units with an emphasis on inquiry and discovery, 2. Reading should be used to aid students in their acquisition and practice of grammatical constructions and structures, 3. Grammar instruction should highlight examples and de-emphasize terminology, 4. Production of effective sentences should supersede analysis, 5. Effective punctuation as reflected in professional writing should be taught rather than the “correct” punctuation as prescribed in handbooks, 6. Questions of usage should be discussed and investigated rather than practiced in exercises from grammar books, and 7. ENL...
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