English grammar can be challenging --- for children and their instructors. The task, however, does not have to be daunting and can actually be as fun and as stimulating as putting together a puzzle, which is essentially what properly piecing words together is like. Learning (or teaching) the basics of grammar takes time, patience and creativity.
Speak Well, Write Well
Children learn how to speak correctly, providing their parents speak well. It also follows that people who speak properly are generally speaking grammatically correct. But speaking is more casual than writing. Obviously, contractions are used frequently in speaking but are not good in many writing endeavors that require more formality. Verbal communication requires less precision than writing, which commands an advanced degree of proficiency and an understanding of the various parts of speech.
Words, Words Everywhere
The English language contains about a quarter of a million word choices that can be separated into eight different aspects of speech. These include nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections. Beginning with the basics and acquiring a solid understanding of sentence composition, most students will eventually enjoy the more complicated aspects of grammar as they progress.
Begin with Basics
Starting with a basic sentence and its structure, students learn that every sentence must have three fundamental components to be complete. All complete sentences have a noun, a verb and a form of closure: a period, a question mark or an exclamation mark. Nouns are the first words that babies learn, as parents use these terms to identify things: daddy, doggy, muffin, rain and so on. Nouns are already a big part of the beginning grammar student's vocabulary.
After understanding the concept of simple sentence structure, students can advance by turning a very basic sentence into a complex and lively one. Using verbs, adjectives and adverbs brings the written word to life in providing colorful narrative. One way of enhancing students' understanding of these additional word choices is to have them build upon the first simple sentence they created by adding embellishments. To begin with, ask the students to describe the noun in their composition. At first they don't even need to know that they're creating an adjective. Their imaginations can run wild describing all sorts of nouns.
Once this concept is realized, expand on the grammatical structure of the sentence, all the while using the original basic sentence so that the students can see how one fairly unexciting sentence can flourish. Following the addition of adjectives, start adding adverbs, eventually leading to more complex sentence structure and identification.
After the students compose some creative sentences, request that they color-code various parts of the sentence. Ask "Where's the noun?" and have them color all the nouns a specified color. Do the same with the adjectives, verbs and adverbs until their sentences resemble vibrant rainbows. Coloring the various pieces of the sentence further enhances their understanding of the sentence structure --- and their memory of such.
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