Six Musts for Teaching Grammar

Are you a teacher? Is teaching grammar part of your routine?

Grammar is a subject that can improve our ability to think analytically, to communicate confidently and effectively, and to understand the language that shapes our world and our personal identities. Grammar matters.

I urge you to take a few minutes each day to focus on this important subject. Here are six musts for teaching grammar!

1. Motivate them.

No matter what subject you teach, it's important to motivate your students. If they don't already have natural interest in something, they need to see why learning about it is necessary.

I'm not going to lie. Motivating students to learn grammar can be tough. A large part of motivation is connecting the subject to the students' lives, and the kinds of connections you can make depend on what age group you're dealing with.

For a group of sixth graders, it wouldn't be very beneficial to connect grammar to job opportunities. Most of them don't care about careers yet. You might, however, make that connection with a group of high school seniors or college students because they are beginning to care about their careers.

If you teach older students, you could use this grammar debate from The New York Times in your discussion.

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For younger students, you'll need to rely more on your own contagious enthusiasm for the subject. If you teach with sentence diagrams, that shouldn't be too difficult!


2) Start from the beginning.

Make sure your students have a solid understanding of the basics before you move to more abstract concepts. Grammar makes sense when it's taught in a certain order, and it can be very confusing when it's taught in a haphazard manner.

If you need help determining a good order for your lessons, check out the overview for the Get Smart course. You can use it as a guide!


3) Be prepared.

It's a bad feeling to be standing in front of a class lecturing about a topic that you have very little understanding of. Learn the content ahead of time so that you can confidently teach your students!


4) Don't fake it.

It's okay not to know it all. If grammar is new to you, focus on understanding the concepts that you'll be teaching in the near future. You don't need to know everything before you begin teaching something.

If your students ask you questions that you don't know the answers to, you can say, "I don't know. I'll look into it and get back to you tomorrow."

5) Do fake it.

If you dislike grammar, try not to show it.

Your students will pick up on your grudge, and they'll start to have the same feelings about it.

That will make it hard for you to teach and hard for your students to learn.

Remember this quote from Maria Montessori.

You yourselves must be filled with wonder.

If you're teaching grammar with sentence diagrams, you shouldn't have to fake enjoyment for too long before you actually start to like grammar!

Speaking of sentence diagrams...

6) Use sentence diagrams.

Diagramming sentences is a great way to get students engaged in what they are learning. Sentence diagrams will also help you learn and love grammar! (Make sure to follow these tips if you teach with diagrams!)

You can learn a lot about diagramming sentences with the information on this page of grammar exercises.

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Be inspired! Use the Get Smart program and easily teach grammar over the course of the school year in just ten minutes a day. You won't have to plan a thing. It's all laid out for you.

I wish you a wonderful start to the new school year!


Elizabeth O'Brien is the creator of the Grammar Revolution step-by-step grammar and sentence diagramming programs. Her programs are guaranteed not only to teach you grammar, but also to give you more confidence in your communication skills.

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