Latest posts by Millie Slavidou (see all)
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We are all told that there are things our children should know and the Internet is awash with articles on the dire consequences of poor grammar, with quiz after quiz to help you determine whether your grammar is good or bad. Here are three good reasons to teach kids grammar.
They Already Know More Than You Think
The thing is, we already know grammar. We may not know what all the different parts are called, but we know grammar. But no! you protest, I know nothing about grammar! I never learnt it in school! I am sure that you did learn something, even if you had another name for it.
Grammar is simply how we put words together and how they relate to one another in a sentence in order to convey meaning. This is something we already know. We know how to get across what we are trying to say, we communicate every day. This is the first encouraging point when it comes to grammar. You know more than you think you do, and so does your child.
To Help Them Express Themselves
Yet this is only half the story. You might know how to speak, but do you know how to write it down, with correct use of apostrophes and other details to make sure there is no confusion about the meaning? This is also part of grammar, and these are things that need to be learnt. Not only that, but we can also learn how to improve the way we speak.
What do I mean by that? I am not talking about avoiding the use of dialect words – these things have their place. But we can learn how to express ourselves better, with a richer vocabulary to make it more interesting and give better detail to what we want to express. And grammar can help us to put it all together.
Learning Foreign Languages
A good knowledge of the parts of speech can help us here. If your child is learning German, for example, they might be told “Verbs work like this, and after these conjunctions the verb goes to the end of the clause.” Obviously, in this case it is helpful to know what a verb is, and relative to that, what a verb tense is, what a conjunction is, what it is for, and what a clause is and so on!
It is much easier to get to grips with another language if you know how your own works – and let’s face it, all children learn foreign languages these days. If they already know what kind of word is used for what kind of function, then they will be much better placed to do the same in another language, even one whose grammar is different.
Words might be put in different orders in other languages, but the basic building blocks of speech don’t tend to change radically from one language to another. An adjective is still used for describing nouns, whether it comes before the noun or after it, but if I don’t know what an adjective is, then telling me where to put it is going to be useless.
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Millie is the author of our book Grammar for Parents and Teachers.