Online Workshop Gunna Get U!

To Grammar, or Not to Grammar

A Short review of grammar in the Writing Center and how to navigate the issue of doing too little, doing too much or not at all in terms of our writing sessions and working with students. This short online refresher will provide you with a quick review of key concepts and help you with your decision-making process of what to do and when.

Grammarly things to remember....

Grammar. It is a common aspect of and reason why students and writers come to the Writing Center for assistance. Here are a few suggestions to place grammar and writing in context - both in your work as writers, readers, and mentors.

1. Academic writing and rigor look VERY different outside of US colleges (and Westernized) countries. What may look like "sloppy writing" is a case of different/differing expectations (for both students and faculty/professors).

2. Yes, it may be part of our job at times to provide the technical explanations of grammar to students and writers. An easy reason for "WHY" can be playing by ear -- "It sounds right (or not)." To further help students with grammar (do's & don'ts) give examples in written and verbal comments that illustrate the same rule or construction. We often learn how to write (well) by reading -- giving examples helps writers to learn the concepts to become more intuitive about what may "feel right."

3. Enjoy what you are writing! Encourage students and writers to take care and an interest in what they are writing -- find a better word, zoom in and out of the page/paper to make it better. Even MLA & APA format guides want all writers/students to write interesting and engaging prose. Ask students to present their ideas and findings directly but aim for something that is in an interesting and compelling style and reflects their (the writer's) own engagement with the problem/topic.

4. Find fun, inventive, humorous ways to explain and demonstrate grammar and sentence problems. It is important to remember that mere explanations of grammar (in all of its forms) are not always appreciated -- and can easily fall into the "Clear Only If Known" category when you know the point being explained but is only crystal clear if you understand the concept. (See #3).

5. Don't take for granted your command of your own native language (English, Portuguese, Gaelic, etc.) -- we tend to not think about the language choices we make on a daily basis.

6. Just because one's native language isn't English - doesn't necessarily mean (or assume) that their language use is problematic nor, does it equate and correlate to a writer's ability (or inability) to grasp sophisticated scholarship, moves in writing or complexities within the academy.

7. Academic writing is a genre. Think of academic writing as another genre or language that all students (even you!) have to master and learn as a college/university student -- whether you are at the freshman, senior or graduate level. It is another tool in the toolbelt (or tool kit) to use rather than throwing out every other (possible) approach and assume that the U.S. way (or your learned way) is better or best.