Home >  Blog >  The teaching of grammar

The teaching of grammar

Posted by Garry Collins, AATE President on 12 December 2014

The letter below was written in response to an article in The Australian and submitted for possible inclusion in the edition of Monday 8 December. It was not, however, selected for publication.

The teaching of grammar

I completely agree with Richard King on a couple of points: that the teaching of grammar is important; and that ideas and language skills are not mutually exclusive alternatives (Strictly speaking, grammar nuts have a point, 6-7/12).

However, some notes of caution need to be sounded. He reports that even his brightest students at the University of Notre Dame display far too many grammatical errors in their writing. That is not the case with the prospective secondary English teachers that I have as students at the University of Queensland. Perhaps variation in entry standards for different institutions is a relevant factor here.

King makes the rather sweeping generalisation that a whole generation of teachers - possibly even two - have no idea of how to teach grammar. The more moderate claim that some teachers would benefit from a greater understanding of grammar would probably have been closer to reality.

He attributes this state of affairs to policy decisions made as long ago as the 1970s. Given that King was apparently not born until 1971, I wonder how he acquired his knowledge of grammar if all of his own teachers were as ignorant as his statement suggests.

The English component of the Foundation to Year 10 Australian Curriculum has an appropriate focus on grammar but it does not invite an uncritical return to the generally ineffective ways of teaching grammar that prevailed in schools prior to the 1970s.

Garry Collins
President, Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE)

Author: Garry Collins, AATE President
About: Garry Collins is the Immediate Past President of ETAQ and began a 2 year term as AATE President on 1 January 2014. A retired high school English teacher, he now works in the School of Education at the University of Queensland as a sessional tutor in English curriculum courses.
Tags: Discussions

Post comment

Upcoming Events

Townsville Breakfast Book Club

Grace Loyden is organising a series of Breakfast Book Clubs starting at 9:00 am on: Sunday 11 February - Burial Rites by Hannah Kent Sunday 21 April - The White Earth by Andrew McGahan Sunday 5 August - Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood Sunday 28 October - We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler ...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 21st April 2018
  Repeating On specific dates
Venue:   Jam Corner Restaurant


Quality Assessment Intensive

THIS EVENT IS NOW FULLY BOOKED A full day program exploring Quality Assessment in the context of the new English syllabuses. The first session will consist of keynotes presented by Dr Jill Willis,and Dr Kelli McGraw, In the second session, Claire Stevens  will present an interactive session while in session three, participants will&n...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 28th April 2018
Venue:   The Ship Inn, Southbank
Phone Enquiries:   0455 464 000
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


The Shakespeare Sessions

The Shakespeare Sessions presented by Charlie Thomson (All Souls and St Gabriels), Dr Claire Hansen and Dr Victoria Kuttainen (both from JCU) on Saturday 28 April from 9am to 12 noon. This will be a fabulous session. Download the flyer here. And it's FREE. Required pre-reading: Place-based education and the Australian Curricul...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 28th April 2018
Venue:   The Cathedral School, Townsville
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


Masterclass - Unit 3

This event will allow participants to explore the syllabus and teaching strategies in detail for semester 3. Day one will deal with English and Literature, while day two will repeat the English sessions and also offer EALD and English Essentials. The Date Claimer gives further details of the program. Program is now available and regis...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 19th May 2018
Venue:   University of Queensland
Phone Enquiries:   0455 464 000
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


AATE/ALEA CONFERENCE 2018

THE ART OF ENGLISH language  -  literature  -  literacy The AATE/ALEA English Literacy National Conference 2018 will be held in Perth from 8 July - 11 July 2018. Download the flyer here, or go to the website englishliteracyconference.com.au for all the latest information.   ...

Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Sunday 8th July 2018
Venue:   Perth


< Previous | 1 | 2 | Next >
View all

English Educator of the week

Rachael Christopherson
Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Number of years teaching:
25.  12 years at BGGS

Where else have you taught?
St Edmund's College, Ipswich (all boys)
Mt Alvernia College, Kedron (all girls)
Downlands College, Toowoomba (co-ed boarding with Ag Studies programme)

 

Read more

View all

Blog Feed

Editor of Words'Worth - Expression of interest

Oct 04 2017
Words'Worth is the journal of The Englis...

Grammar myths

Sep 12 2017
An edited version of the letter below was pu...
Read all

Testimonials

Read All

This is the first time I have been to an ETAQ conference and it was really sensational to get so much at all of the sessions.

ETAQ conferences always have sessions that make me excited to be a teacher.

I know that ETAQ conferences in the past have never disappointed - valuable, relevant, practical, inspiring so I came again.

Read All

Newsletter

Receive updates
from ETAQ

PO Box 3375, STAFFORD,
Queensland, Australia, 4053
(07) 3284 3718
ABN: 17 689 278 512

Connect to a great range of people who are passionate about English and have their finger on the pulse.

Be Connected