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21 March 2005: Grammar Schmammar (4 of 4)

Hopefully by now I've made a strong case for why those folks at the University of York can conclude that teaching grammar does not make students better writers.

Of course, the natural question follows, what does make students better writers?

In my opinion, the most important factor that affects learning is motivation. Just like riding a bicycle or learning to speak, students must see value in something before they will be motivated to learn it. For some students, the motivation lies simply in getting a good grade. For others, success in school is less important than success outside of school. Either way, helping students recognize the value of being able to express themselves in writing is every teacher's challenge.

When student motivation is paired with opportunities for practice and experiences of success, that's when they improve their writing skills. Start with a good reason to do it, give them the tools they need to be successful, and give them lots and lots of opportunities to practice. You don't have to read it all, because correcting the grammar won't help them learn anyway.

teaching quote of the day

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

- Chinese proverb

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