What is grammar?
Grammar is the whole system and structure of a language. The grammar of a language consists of the following:
- Syntax – the arrangement of words within a sentence
- Morphology – the study of how words are structured. This can include prefixes, suffixes and verb endings
- Phonology – study of sound system in a language
- Semantics – study of meaning in language
It is how all these components are interwoven and can affect the other which results in the very complex structure of a language.
Professor David Crystal, a prominent linguist defines and explains the importance of grammar:
‘Grammar is what gives sense to language….sentences make words yield up their meanings. Sentences actively create sense in language and the business of the study of sentences is the study of grammar.’
Why do we need to teach English grammar?
The purpose of teaching grammar is predominantly to provide children with the tools, knowledge and understanding which will help them to write more effectively. As children, and adults, become aware of key grammatical principles and their effects, they will become confident at manipulating written and spoken language to achieve a specific affect or simply to produce structurally sound writing which is cohesive.
Arguments in favour of teaching grammar
- Grammar gives clarity to speech and writing.
- Grammar improves production skills especially in written language (punctuation).
- Unless we understand the grammar of a language, we are unable to use language creatively.
- Grammar enables the learner to create an infinity of sentences.
- It can also be a tool for learning other languages.
How do we teach grammar at our school?
Phase 1 (EYFS & Year 1)
Staff in nursery and reception work hard to provide good models of spoken language and they correct children’s sentence structure orally. As children progress in Year 1 the focus is on using correct tenses in oral language. The teaching and learning is very context based.
Simple grammar in written language is addressed as part of the literacy lesson. There is a short warm up activity at the beginning of each lesson which teaches and allows children to apply simple grammar and punctuation to language.
Phase 2 (Year 2 & 3) and Phase 3 (Year 4, 5 & 6)
All year groups will use a Basic Skills session for the discrete teaching of grammar. This 30 minute session will focus on one area of grammar. The teaching will ensure that children are exposed to the correct terminology. There will be activities planned which address various learning styles and encourage active learning.
This weekly grammar session will provide the focus for the literacy warm up activities. Teachers will plan a 5-10 minute daily warm activity which helps with overlearning of key concepts and terminology. It provides an opportunity to rehearse, develop an understanding of, and how to embed the grammar in their own writing.
What do we teach at our school?
As a temporary measure, class teachers are addressing gaps which have presented themselves in the children’s’ knowledge and understanding of grammar. They are planning lessons which are meeting the needs of their learners. These areas are not always corresponding to the areas to be covered as set out on the Yearly Literacy Overviews for each year group.