All Students Must Learn How to Use Grammar

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All Students Must Learn How to Use Grammar From the seventh grade, and all through high school, I avoided grammar. Though I remember clearly the infamous AWK's and RO's glaring at me from the margins of my returned essays and reports, I wouldn't go so far as to say that that meant I was learning "grammar" or even correct writing for that matter. There in green, blue, and sometimes black ink was the evidence that someone--more powerful, more knowing, more in control of the English language than I--had read through my work and found something that wasn't quite right. So I'd rewrite, revise, reword, and rethink everything, hoping that the next draft would miraculously make more sense than the last. To me, good, clear writing was something more akin to magic than skill. And though I had no clue what I was or was not doing right, I fumbled my way through school. I mentioned that I was able to avoid grammar (explicit, formal, and traditional that is) until my junior year of BA work when I was required by my English department to take and pass a course in grammar. And like many of my classmates, I grumbled and complained about the requirement. I knew how to write. What did I need grammar for? I'd received As and Bs on my papers for as long as I could remember. I knew what I was doing. Or so I thought. It wasn't until I'd struggled through a semester of formal grammar, having minor epiphanies along the way (e.g., I found out what a fragment was, why one shouldn't write "the reason is because," and what a participle--those things that can dangle--is) that I discovered the complexities of language. All those mysteries, all those circ... ... middle of paper ... ... McQuade, Finlay (1980). Examining A Grammar Course: The Rationale and the Result. The English Journal, 69, 26-30. Mellon, J. C. (1969). Transformational sentence combining: A method of enchanting the development of syntactic fluency in English composition. NCTE Research Report, 10, Champaign: NCTE. Newkirk, T. (1978). Grammar instruction and writing: What we don't know. English Journal, 67, 46-48. Noguchi, R. R. (1991). Grammar and the teaching of writing: Limits and possibilities. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English. Tomlinson, D. (1994). Errors in the research into the effectiveness of grammar teaching. English in Education, 28(1), 20-6. Weaver, C. (1996). Teaching grammar in context. Portsmouth: Boyton/Cook Publishers.
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