Here’s a posted conversation that may help:
Great question about the SAT.
The SAT is timed, so no one is going to operate effectively by recalling and applying a matrix of rules. The SAT prep courses pretty much tell you to go with what sounds better anyway.
Here are some thoughts I’ll share (especially from working with my own kids on the SAT)…
* The SAT grammar questions are about a couple of primary things—
If one choice is more direct…that is likely the best version. If one choice can be taken a couple of different ways…or…it isn’t clear who is doing what in the sentence–it is likely wrong.
Try a practice section and see if the most direct and the most clear aren’t basically the two things they are after in the test.
Finally, in most of the ‘grammar choice’ questions you will be wise to cover up the answers and make a ‘guess’ before you look at choices A-E. If you will go ahead and have a guess of what it ‘should be’ the way it sounds to you…then you will be able to quickly see what answer matches closest (and that’s the one that will usually be right).
P.S. I’m often blunt because I am direct and clear 😉
www.advancedwitingresources.com – sheri hollinger wrote
Fred, Your blunt-ness cracks me up. =)
I completely agree that grammar diffuses the ability to write, and to comprehend reading at times too. Try to dissect scripture; many times this just baffles me, lol.
My question is….How can we get our kids to score well in state testing if we don’t plug away at grammar?
From: [email protected]…January 14, 2011 12:43:06 PM> Subject: [LybrandWriting] Re: A NewQuestion (Grammar – Jacee)Jacee,
I’m a rebel on this one! We have NEVER taught our kids much formal grammar at all…mostly because it is a stupid and foolish waste of time that takes kids away from learning how to write well (and creatively).
Now…let me reverse course…I’ve studied English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Spanish. Here’s is where grammar is useful…in the ANALYSIS of WRITTEN words. If you are analyzing a Bible verse it comes in handy (maybe). In writing, on the SAT, and in college…using good grammar is important, but knowing grammar rules and principles is not. Mostly grammar slows the brain down.
Good use of grammar comes from good reading and good feedback (on papers and while talking). Mostly the SAT is just concerned about clarity and directness.
Unfortunately, since we are all scared to death, we supplement our kids with grammar ‘just in case’ All I can say is, “Go for it. More power to you!”I’m cheering for everyone and each of us must find our way.
For me and my house…we write and get feedback…and learn to make what we write sound even better.
www.advancedwritingresources.com – Bibliomomiac [email protected] wrote:
Topic of Grammar – I was intending on waiting til high school to begin a serious study of grammar. My thought is that lots ofgrammar will be learnt from the writing programs and read great literature. But I do catch myself wondering if I should do more.It seems most my homeschool friends have a yearly grammar curriculum. Right? Wrong?Oh, we will be covering grammar with Latin First Form, although notenglish grammar, it should be a good if not better base then english grammar.
Now even the UK is up-in-arms about the inadequacy of using standardized tests to access writing skills. Here are a couple of quotes from an article:
Head teachers fear some pupils in England have been graded incorrectly in a writing test that forms part of their national curriculum tests or Sats.
It also polled members in one local authority – Lancashire – where 47 out of 48 respondents reported “serious inconsistencies” in the way different papers were marked.
In June, a review of Sats by Lord Bew recommended the creative writing test should be scrapped and children’s creative writing skills assessed by teachers.
Of course, they are running into the same issues we face with our own SAT writing section. It is genuinely improbable that we will ever create a standard way to judge writing quality through a mechanical method. We attempt it with the supposed ‘rules of grammar and punctuation’—but if you spend any time studying and reflecting, you will realize that such things are not standardized. Actually, it is impossible to create a static set of rules for a fluid thing. Language continues to adapt and adjust and grow. Sorry, that’s just how it works. Language may be the only truly democratic thing on the planet (Thank you Rudolf Flesch for this point!). A writing course could be the answer, but wouldn’t it need to foster freedom instead of crush us by its rules?
If English had a static set of rules then wouldn’t we all talk like Shakespeare? Well, methinks I doth protest too much 🙂
Language is indeed fluid, and creative writers come up with even more cool-and-unique-to-the-moment ways of communicating things. You can rest assured that Shakespeare wouldn’t have written with the same ‘grammar’ if he were alive today. Or, stated plainly, if he had—we wouldn’t know who he is!
Isn’t it time for all of the stuffy grammarians to recognized excellence in writing on the basis of some other set of criteria rather than their own ‘approved’ set of rules? N.B. – I didn’t say, “Give up on excellence in writing.”
My suggestion? Go back to sound. Recognize language is an instinct in the same way music is an instinct. Pay attention. If people like a song…maybe there is a reason. If people like a writing style…maybe there is a reason for that too! In fact, could the reason be that it just sounds cool, whether it is grammatically approve or not?
What if we permissioned (cool use of a verbifying a noun that I’d get a D for in school) our own children to write, at least occasionally, in a way that just struck them as sounding great? What new writer with a new style might we gift to the world because of our kind empowerment to write in a fresh way (it will also possibly become the new ‘good writing example’).
Recently I ran a few of my sentences through a popular grammar-fixing software program…and I did poorly (a D 🙂
Next, I ran Faulkner and Hemingway through the same program…they did worse than I did!
Maybe the other experts will figure it out and we can have the creativity perfectly programmed out of us. In the meantime, why not join my expertise and help a generation of writers by encouraging them to write with their instinctive ear for what sounds how they want it read? Curse the rules…full Grace ahead!
Write well and write free,
P.S. Thoughts? Comment away…let’s think together.
P.P.S. If you found this helpful, you might want to know I have a whole curriculum available to teach children how to write by sound (instinct): It’s called The Writing Course
I started out thinking I might want to explain why all the folks griping about grammar (and punctuation and spelling) on the internet need to relax. Look, I love grammar too (it is so cool to get at meaning / change meaning by looking at how words fit together)…but if your goal is for people to use good grammar, why not use the greatest shortcut available?
The greatest shortcut is our own instinct for language. Here is an example of an article that explain the innate and consistent ‘basics’ of grammar hard-wired into all of us.
It is innate and instinctive…in fact, evolution has a really hard time explaining how a language instinct would ever develop. Pinker even admits that if evolution (gradualism in his view) isn’t true, then there MUST be a GOD! Ockham’s Razor (in my view) also suggests to me that GOD is the answer to this one. He is the simplest explanation. He clearly designed us for communication….which includes grammar, of course.
When students start to discover that they can figure out what is ‘right’ (which means it works / makes sense) with their own internal sense of language–apart from knowing the rules consciously— or they grow a kind of confidence that invites them to see what else can be done with words. Often this same experience blossoms into asking, “I wonder why it works that way?” Getting curious about something one innately knows becomes real motivation that can last a lifetime.
Why not first show a student that he already knows a lot about language…then show him how folks have recorded the rules he already uses?
Of course, reading good material helps us learn in the same way splashing in the water leads to better swimming skills.
Hope this helps,
Dr. Fred Lybrand
P.S. If this was useful, won’t you please share at facebook and twitter to let others know? Thank you!
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