• 23Nov

    YouTube Preview ImageI had two interesting grammatical revelations from my stepkids this week. The school systems are failing our kids and contributing to the erosion of English grammar. It’s not just the advent of text messaging and e-mail and “quick, qwerty” communications. There is something more fundamental going on here. Kids are not being taught the basics of grammar and sentence construction, and if they are being taught the basics, the schools are not reinforcing those lessons with solid writing assignments.

    My stepdaughter is in her freshman year at college, and was trying to get her mid-term paper completed for her writing class. I told her I would be happy to look it over before she submitted it. When I read it, I was amazed that a college freshman had such a weak grasp of basic grammar and sentence structure. I know that she’s a very hard worker and not the best writer, but even so, she needed to submit a solid admissions essay to get into college, so I wondered why this paper seemed to be so poorly written? Most of the problems were things that have become second nature to me, such as subject/verb agreement, starting sentences with a conjunction, and a myriad of other simple rules that were drilled into my head at an early age.

    Now consider her younger brother who is a very gifted writer with a natural grasp of language and grammar. He has aspirations to become a professional journalist; whatever that role looks like in the future.  However, his high school stands in his way. He can’t write for the school paper without first completing a series of prerequisite writing courses, so even if he wanted to try his hand at journalism, he will have to wait until the end of his senior year.

    We need to encourage students to write, not discourage them. And we need to work with them to help them understand the structure of language and how and why the rules are applied. I taught English as a second language for a time and know it can be difficult to master the English language. The key is to practice using it, and not by texting or sending funny e-mails, but with true writing projects that will help you master grammar. Maybe it’s time to bring back Grammar Rock.

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    Posted by Tom Woolf @ 8:39 am

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