Friday, August 26, 2011

What's this grammar thing everyone keeps talking about?

My biggest worry is not knowing how to explain concepts. To be honest, I've never been too interested in grammar before now. I think the last grammar and composition class I had was over fifteen years ago. Grammar evokes images of a crusty, matronly old English teacher named Bertha spouting off about verb conjugation and slapping your wrist when you use "who" instead of "whom." I never thought I'd want to teach it.
Being in the Writing Center has changed my mind. I was amazed when I taught my first workshop last semester and saw the students were actually into it. They were involved, they participated, they raised their hands--it was amazing. The veteran tutors and Claire know how to make grammar interesting. This is mainly accomplished through interactive grammar exercises and finding ways to incorporate Star Wars into as many practice sentences as possible. 

Back to my concern. I've been a reader my entire life and I know intuitively when something is wrong with a sentence or a paragraph, but I'm not always able to explain why. I'm still learning the terminology. To wit -- I didn't know what an independent clause was until I came to the Writing Center (or, rather, I didn't know an independent clause was called an independent clause until I came to the Writing Center). I have no idea what a dangling modifier is. I can only name four of the six comma rules off the top of my head.

But I'm learning. The Least You Should Know About English book is a great help. It's also great to be able to teach the terminology in an actual session. I'm actually enjoying my crash course in grammar. So am I a little nervous? Sure. But more excited than anything.


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