Why Grammar Instruction is So Important

Many people’s eyes glaze over if you even mention the word grammar. They probably recall hours of drills that didn’t seem relevant to anything other than standardized tests. However, grammar instruction is one of the most vital components of learning how to communicate effectively, both in speech and in writing.

Learning about grammar makes it possible for us to talk about the ways we communicate with language. The human brain is wired to put sentences together with specific grammatical structures—but this automatic process can be refined with good grammar instruction. Grammar instruction is not only about finding errors and correcting them; it is also about constructing clear and precise documents and oral communications with others. It is about creating vivid and interesting images with words.

Here are a Few Things to Note When Teaching Grammar to Students of All Ages:

1. Teaching grammar will not make all students’ errors disappear.

Grammar is a very complex system of rules. As students’ writing develops, they often make new errors (but not always fewer!). Grammar instruction evolves as students’ abilities to communicate evolve. Therefore, grammar must be studied in conjunction with writing assignments throughout students’ academic experiences. Plus, grammar instruction equips students will a tool to analyze the way they think about the presentation of their ideas.

2. Understanding grammar helps students become better readers and writers.

The first step to becoming a good writer is to be a good reader. Knowledge of basic grammar helps students comprehend a complicated poem or story by enabling them to break apart sentences or locate the main subject and verb in a phrase. If students appreciate the way a certain author writes, they can draw on their grammatical knowledge to figure out the types of sentence structures that the author uses—and can then experiment with their own writing styles. Ask your students about their favorite authors, and wherever possible, use examples of those authors’ works to illustrate new topics in grammar instruction.

3. Grammar instruction is most effective when applied in meaningful contexts.

Grammar drills are not the most effective way to improve student writing.

“Students need to understand how language works in order to become effective writers, and this is best accomplished by instruction that focuses on a context-based approach that illustrates how parts of language work together to create meaning” (Writing Now).

Grammar drills and direct instruction are most meaningful when they are applied in the context of the students’ own writing and editing, and in the context of what they are reading. By applying grammar principles to authentic texts, students see the relevance of grammar instruction.

When our Sylvan tutors teach grammar in our writing programs, they encourage students to apply the skills they learned to their own writing and editing. Whether a child’s essay is clear or vague, easy to follow or convoluted, interesting or monotonous, the quality of the work depends a great deal on the grammatical structure of his or her writing.

With Sylvan’s Writing Program, your child will team up with one of our certified tutors to become a more confident and strategic writer. Through a range of hands-on activities, your child will discover how to:

  • Make the writing process easy and manageable, breaking the writing process down into small steps
  • Identify the six traits of good writing and confidently apply them to essays, research reports, blog posts and more
  • Correctly use writing mechanics, such as grammar and punctuation
  • Hone the digital writing skills needed for 21st century careers
  • Score higher on tests because he or she has a clear plan for written responses and open-ended questions

Reach out today to chat about Sylvan’s Writing Programs. We’re happy to explore how we can help you strengthen your child’s skills and spark an interest in writing.

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