Educating Educators: Basic Grammar for Teachers
Should all educators have to pass basic grammar in order to teach? Several months ago, Grammarly polled, and over 30,000 people cast their votes. The overwhelming majority, 94 percent, answered yes. But what kinds of skills should be tested? Most states require teachers to pass a test of basic skills, but each state has unique licensure requirements. Generally, the states who use tests focus on math, writing, language arts, and reading comprehension. In addition, teachers often have to pass in-depth tests in their teaching specialty. Let’s talk about what commenters think teachers should know.
Basic Parts of Speech
In one anecdote, one teacher observed a colleague pushing ESL students to identify a direct object in every sentence. Of course, not every sentence has a direct object. Clearly, these students would later have a difficult time understanding what a direct object is and identifying other parts of speech. English teachers in particular should have a firm grasp of grammar and conventions before they deliver a lesson to the class. Teachers and anyone else wishing to review the basic parts of speech can consult our Grammar Basics series. The articles give a brief overview of how to use each of the major parts of speech.
One comment reminisces unfavorably about a high school teacher who insisted that the first sentence of every paragraph be the topic sentence. Fatigued with students omitting this sentence, having to search for it, or perhaps from ignorance, she explained that topic sentences are always at the top! The story is humorous, but good writing skills are no laughing matter. Studies have repeatedly proven that good writing skills can help you to distinguish yourself from other applicants in any career. Employers value good communicators, and this skill is essential in the teaching field.
Teachers who specialize in a subject should be experts. One commenter found it “incredible that someone can teach something without knowing how to spell it.” A good proofreading program will help teachers avoid spelling errors in printed materials. Teachers should make sure to double-check everything that they distribute to students and parents, including emails and worksheets that they find online.
Commonly Confused Expressions
One teacher fell prey to a commonly confused expression. A commenter shared the feedback that the teacher provided to her fifth-grade daughter: “You should of wrote…” The correct phrase is “should have.” (And it should be “written,” not “wrote.”) Yes, some similar-sounding expressions confuse even professionals! There are many sayings that are frequently mixed-up, and teachers have a prime opportunity to model the correct use of these expressions. Students often pick up the speaking patterns of those with whom they spend significant periods of time—parents, peers, and teachers.
In your opinion, should aspiring teachers have to demonstrate basic grammar skills? It’s not too late to cast your vote! Most teachers do a great job, and they love to learn. Whether an educational institution requires basic skills testing or not, many educators would enjoy brushing up on the basics of writing and grammar. Thankfully, there’s lots of learning material available for students and teachers! Have you taken the time to thank a teacher for helping you to learn basic grammar—either by teaching it directly or setting a great example?