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Grammar-Teaching Issue

September 21, 1986

John Tagg disdains the teaching of grammar in his View article dated Aug. 22 ("One Threat to Literacy: Grammar"). For support, he cites a study made in 1963 which declares that such teaching has "a negligible . . . effect on improvement of writing."

As an English teacher, I question whether the well-publicized decline in the quality of student writing doesn't have a direct correlation with this "negligible effect" mentality. How else can I explain that my best 12th-grade student writers have usually been those who had the strongest background in grammar? Some of them have even been able to diagram (horrors!) a sentence. Why have so many students with poor writing abilities expressed to me that they felt cheated because they were not taught grammar? And I am not speaking of only high-achieving students. It is even more discouraging when remedial students express such sentiments--and they do.

BEVERLY WAYTE

Pasadena

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