What do English teachers need to know about grammar? part 2

An amazing trip down memory lane from Mom of 4:

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…

Structure of English and Stylistics — brilliant ! I so wish I could have taken that sequence myself.

I wish I could take it now, actually. 

I’m guessing Coursera isn’t going to have it . . . 


Nope. Nothing at Coursera. No Structure of English, no Stylistics. Although I can create a grammar portfolio if I sign up for a 3-course sequence culminating in “Advanced Grammar & Punctuation

If you have taken the three courses in this specialization, you have learned a lot of grammar in the past few months. This will be a big help to your studies or your career. This project will help you process what you’ve learned and help you remember it forever. In this course, you will create a grammar portfolio of the difficult or interesting English grammatical structures that you studied in the previous courses. 

Sounds like a good time.

(Is there any form of higher learning for which a portfolio is not appropriate? I’m asking.) 

I’ve become a huge fan of sentence diagramming, which has never been properly studied as far as I can tell. I would bet a modest sum of money diagramming helps writing and reading both. 

7 thoughts on “What do English teachers need to know about grammar? part 2

  1. Try reading Susan Wise Bauer on reading and writing and diagramming. She says that if a sentence doesn’t make sense and the student can’t figure out why, diagramming it out will point out the problem — whatever the problem is, it won’t go on the diagram. Of course, this means you have to actually know how to diagram in the first place! I’ve found that SWB has some original and useful ideas about teaching writing to kids. She breaks it down into skills that can be introduced and practiced one at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How about edX? The syllabus for English Grammar and Style lists:
    * what grammar is and why it matters; writing standard English; and how words work.
    * parts of speech and word classes; structure and patterns of sentences, phrases, and clauses; and common sentence-level problems.
    * finite and non-finite verbs: linking verbs, auxiliary verbs, transitive and intransitive verbs, verb phrases, phrasal verbs, verbal phrases, infinitives, participles, and gerunds; tense, mood, and voice of verbs.
    * form and function of nouns: noun strings and nominalisations; form and function of pronouns, and problems with pronouns.
    * form, function, and use of adjectives including the ‘Royal Order of Adjectives’ and degrees of comparison. Adjectival sequencing, punctuation, and determiners will also be discussed.
    * form, function, degrees of comparison, and placement of adverbs; intensifiers; and weasels.
    * how prepositions function and problems with prepositions. We’ll also look at paragraph development and cohesive ties.
    * the main punctuation marks, punctuation problems, and other punctuation marks.

    I don’t see “diagramming,” but this looks pretty good.

    There’s also Udemy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did three years of diagramming with each of my kids, and I found it was particularly useful for my dyslexic. I mean, a visual representation of a sentence! He was good at it.


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