Now, like most of us, I learned grammar as a kid by just… picking it up. I was fortunate to grow up around two parents who spoke English fluently and correctly so I just sorta learned it by listening.
I didn’t really understand English grammar until I studied other languages. As I’d learn something in Spanish or Japanese, it would make me realize how English actually works.
So, for my advanced grammar group, I encouraged my students to examine the rules of other languages. Some interesting rules they discussed included:
- Spanish: Adjectives come after nouns
- Japanese: Nouns are not pluralized. The number of items is implied within the sentence.
- French: Nouns have gender
This opens their minds to the possibilities of what a language can be like.
By examining other languages, we validate our multilingual students and provide them with an opportunity to be experts during language arts. It’s also enjoyable to see students make connections as they analyze their own language’s grammar.
You are probably aware of patterns in your students’ writing caused by their first language. These may include errors in conjugation, subject-verb agreement, or tense. Rather than endlessly marking up papers in red ink, consider having your students compare and contrast English and their first language to truly understand the origins of these errors.
And, if you’ve got kids interested in this topic, the next step is to create a new language! Luckily, my pal David literally wrote the book!