While some teachers love teaching students grammar principles, it is not everyone’s favorite part of being an English teacher. However, teaching (and learning about) this subject doesn’t have to be as painful as pulling teeth.
Here are five ways to make the process more enjoyable for everyone:
Be in tune with your students’ oral communication pattern
After all, speech and writing are intertwined, and there are generally more opportunities to correct grammar issues in spoken word. Correcting incorrect speech can, under the right circumstances, lead to stronger writing and grammar skills. However, we must keep the following in mind: use mistakes solely as a learning opportunity. We often forget how embarrassing it is to be corrected in front of the class. Instead of addressing the issue to them in a short, curt manner, try addressing the student individually or using it to spark a more extensive conversation.
Boost student engagement
Students often learn a lot from their peers. After all, who is the first person a student will go to if they have a question about the homework? Answer: their friends. An excellent strategy for improving learning outcomes in grammar studies is to allow the students to have an active role in their learning as a peer unit. This can be achieved through small and large group work, especially with creative projects, presentations, and group homework assignments. Internet collaboration platforms like Google Docs, Skype, Dropbox, and Word Online are great tools to allow collaboration in a student’s busy schedule. All it requires is a little ingenuity to come up with group work tailored to your course of study.
Show them why grammar and punctuation matters
Half the battle is answering the age-old question: “When will I ever use this? I want to be a scientist!” A fun way to show the importance of grammar is to have each student bring in or write a sentence in which grammar rules are disregarded. Have each student swap their incorrect sentences with a partner. Each partner now corrects their new sentence using the grammar and punctuation rules learned in class. The funnier, the better! For example, “Lets eat grandma!” Or “Eat. You’re dinner!” To remind the students of this exercise and the importance of grammar and punctuation, put the incorrect sentences up on a bulletin board for all to see. You can also use digital sites such as Canva.com to create funny infographics or memes to display in your classroom.
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Give grammar context
More often than not, rote memorization of grammar principles is not sufficient. Memorization is a useful tool for certain students, but should not be the end-all-be-all of grammar instruction. Using materials already used in the classroom, such as novels or journal articles, can help show your students the power of good writing. It also provides real, non-textbook examples of grammar topics. As they say, readers often make the best writers and communicators! This is where mentor sentences come in quite handy. During your next novel study, study and analyze the grammar rules of several sentences.
Create grammar challenges for prizes or extra credit
Let’s face it. Academics can be competitive, especially in middle and high school. Use that to your advantage and create grammar challenges. An example of this is to have students write short stories containing specific tasks, such as “include a compound-complex sentence that begins with a participle phrase.” This activity is quite flexible and can be tailored to your needs. For each short story written that includes all required components, the student earns one point. After a set number of points are acquired throughout the semester, a student wins a prize or is given extra credit. This way, students are not only reinforcing grammar concepts, but they’re also improving their writing! It’s a win-win for all of you.