Do we need grammar?
Did you know that most kids in Australia nowadays do not learn grammar? In fact they have not been taught these essential skills since the 1970s. What on earth did they think when they decided to remove grammar from the curriculum?
One of the main reasons that grammar was unpopular was that it was taught ‘out of context’. Teaching rigid rules about the use of language but not understanding how to apply those rules would not appeal to anyone. However that still doesn’t mean that they had to remove it altogether. The issue now is that they like to re-introduce grammar as part of the curriculum. Who is going to teach it as the generation that was ‘saved’ from grammar is now teaching our kids! Are they first going on a ‘grammar’ course to actually now what they talking about?
Is grammar a necessary evil?
I am not a native English speaker and there are still occasions that I do not know a particular word or compose a sentence in the wrong way. When I learned English I did learn grammar though. In fact I had to master it in every language. Grammar is part of the make-up of a language and I believe that you need to be able to recognise the parts of a sentence in order to use them correctly.
My daughter did a German Immersion Program at high school. She learned to understand German very well but did not learn to speak it grammatically correct as she was never taught any rules. There are many rules in the German language and without knowing them you will make mistakes.
She changed schools and learned Spanish through the International Baccalaureate Program. In this system grammar is considered important and funny enough she started to understand her German better as a result of mastering Spanish grammar rules.
Spelling mistakes – are they acceptable?
What do you think when you receive an email or SMS message with spelling mistakes? Maybe I am old school but I don’t like it. I aim to deliver both my emails and messages in correct English. My kids will certainly sigh when reading this but I like to think that there are basic standards. After all you would not send a job application without doing a spell check? So why is it so common in the social media?
Grammar may be boring but to me it is just as essential to a language as traffic rules are to driving. I won’t start throwing all kind of grammatical jargon to you but I like to show you a few basis rules.
- Sentences: Keep your sentences to such a length that they make sense. There are some numbers out there – 25 words tend to be the maximum, 15-18 words are a nice average but shorter is fine. A variation makes reading more interesting.
- Connecting words: but, because, since, or, and are connecting words and they often introduce a concept that is contradictory or explanatory to the previous you have written. Where they are used in very long sentences is often the place where you could break up the sentence.
- Paragraphs: Nobody likes to have to work through too much unbroken text. Keep your paragraphs sharp, short and to the point. A guideline is 5-6 sentences. Bullet points are great for blogging as many bloggers tend to skim over the page. They are easier to digest than long slabs of text.
Last but not least, grammar is part of a language but you are not writing a scientific report and nobody is grading you. The occasional stylistic ‘error’ is fine when it helps your blog to be more interesting and punchy.