Sunday, May 15, 2016

Language and Grammar


I’m not a fan of grammar books.  In fact, they confuse me no end with all those technical terms such as inchoative verbs and protasis.  As a teacher of English, I’ve always advised my students to hone their linguistic skills by listening, speaking, reading and writing.  We can learn another language just as we learnt our mother tongue: by using the language rather than learning its grammar. 

However, I have had to teach grammar sometimes as part of the academic courses.  I’ve tried my best to make the grammar teaching sound as light and interesting as possible by avoiding jargon as far as possible and focusing on exercises that are relevant to the students’ day-to-day life.  Traditional grammar teaching would be the most boring part of language learning for most students.  And yet, having said all this, I must add that some knowledge of basic grammar always helps us to master the language.

During my recent visit to Delhi, one of my ex-colleagues presented me a set of grammar books she authored.  They belong to a series titled English Skills, Grammar and Composition published by Vishv Books, Delhi.  The books for classes 6 to 8 are written by S. K. Manimekalai, English teacher in one of the reputed schools in NCR. 

A lot of sincere hard work has gone behind the production of these books.  Each topic is covered extensively and systematically.  For example, the chapter on Determiners in the class 8 book covers articles, possessive determiners, demonstrative determiners, distributive determiners, numeral and quantitative determiners and interrogative determiners.  Each category is explained very lucidly with appropriate examples and even illustrations where necessary.  Then there are exercises which will reinforce the student’s learning. 

The books are well designed and the layout is very appealing.  The level gradation for each class is planned very carefully too so that whatever a student learns in class 6, say, is reinforced with more knowledge and skills in the next class, while some new topics are added too. 

In spite of my inborn rebellion against canons and rubrics, I found the books interesting.  They are eminently useful for young students who wish to gain mastery over English.


12 comments:

  1. Not only for young students, many others would do well to take a few grammar lessons. What with people considering the SMS language as the new cool, it gets so frustrating to read things that are written in what the writer believes is English! :)

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    1. Today's SMS has become a new lingo altogether which has its own grammar. Youngsters are picking up that lingo easily while the proper language can be picked up with the same ease provided they want to do it.

      Still a few grammar lessons may be required to clear certain confusions.

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  2. Grammar is so important for the present generation....everyone seems to be talking in abbreviations these days....no structure....no sentence.....just a word here and a word there and an emoticon in-between.....I cannot teach grammar too, by the way....:)

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    1. This is a common complaint now, Sunaina. See Priyanka's comment above. As a teacher I have seen SMS lingo entering into the answers of students - without the emoticons generally, though there are a couple of students who go to that extent too.

      Enjoying literature has gone out of students' life. They don't even want to think about life and its solid issues. Overall there is a superficial attitude towards life. This superficiality is what is reflected in the evolution of the language. The solution is in making students think more seriously, make them read, think, write, discuss... which is what I try to do in the class.

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  3. I shudder to think of the sad state of grammar in the current and future generations! They are unaware of basic grammar rules, which is rather put-offing! Thanks for sharing this resource, would like to check it out for my kid!

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    1. Perhaps the education system should take part of the blame. If you see the way grammar is taught and assessed you will understand why students will end up hating grammar.

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  4. I think Grammer is important, but at the same time learning English is way easier if you normally read, talk or think in English.. I used to be scared of those grammer books coz I never understood the 100 types of tenses - past participle, present perfect and blah blah..

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    1. That's precisely what I am saying too. Actually grammar is inborn if you believe Noam Chomsky. It's a question of polishing it up. Read, speak, etc are the natural methods.

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  5. Let grammar take wings and explore new ways into the minds of those souls grappling with the complex rules of grammar.

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    1. A prankish question: which came first - language or grammar? :)

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  6. Need to communicate! Gestures, sign language, pictographs, language. .... last Grammar! ;)

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  7. Need to communicate! Gestures, sign language, pictographs, language. .... last Grammar! ;)

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