What do English teachers need to know about grammar?

I don’t have an answer to that, but I do have an opinion: English teachers need to have taken at least one linguistics class somewhere along the line, and probably a traditional grammar class to boot.

We’re a long way from that standard:

A few years ago, Syntax in the Schools ran a series of articles on main and subordinate clauses — is the main idea in a sentence usually embedded in the main subject and verb?  I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised when a number of subscribers told me that the series was, for them, incomprehensible because they cannot identify clauses. And these were teachers who want to teach grammar and even belong to ATEG.

On Learning Those Pesky Parts of Speech – Dr. Ed Vavra

 

7 thoughts on “What do English teachers need to know about grammar?

  1. Recently I’ve been seeing errors like this: “Putting things in order are difficult.” It seems that people are deciding whether to make a verb singular or plural by checking the status of the most recent noun (“things”) instead of the subject of the clause (“putting”). The horsemen of the apocalypse are not far behind …

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was at my flagship state college, in the 60s, every English major in the College of Arts and Sciences had to earn at least a B in (1) Structure of the English Language and (2) Stylistics, in that order. The professor was outstanding, demanding – I had her for another class – and widely considered to be the toughest grader in the department. I don’t think re-taking the class was possible, and I had a number of English major friends. I do know that many prospective majors bolted to the ed school, over the requirement. The ed school required neither class, although some of the top students did take Structure.

    Back in the 80s, my younger kids had a new grad (different state flagship) who practically boasted – as an English teacher – that she had never diagrammed a sentence and thought it both useless and ridiculous. She might have been a better writer if she had; I was tempted to correct her communications and send them back, and my major was not even in the humanities. I spent a lot of time supervising my kids’s work…

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