The case for professional development for teachers in sentences/clause and word-level grammar

  • Grammar is an essential part of the Australian Curriculum and is critical to students’ literacy development.

  • Grammar is also a core part of the Curriculum’s ‘General Capabilities’ and the ‘National Literacy and Numeracy Progressions’.

  • In the 21st century, the complexity of language outlined in the Curriculum presents significant challenges for in-service teachers.

  • Many teachers have come from educational backgrounds where grammar was not taught (Department of Education, 2014).

  • Studies have found that many teachers struggle not only with terminology but also the complex grammatical structures they are required to teach (Jones & Chen, 2012; Mhyill, Jones & Watson, 2013; Maken-Horarik, Love & Horarik, 2018).

  • In 2020, in relation to the NSW Education Standards Authority 2018 report “How is writing taught in NSW classrooms”, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that two thirds of teachers identified they were “either minimally or not prepared at all to teach grammar, punctuation, spelling, paragraphing and sentence structure….”. This indicates the need for specialised teacher training and support.

  • There is pressure now on teachers in all subject areas to have an increased understanding of language. The Curriculum highlights that as learning is accessed through English and each area of curriculum has its own particular language features, that “all teachers are responsible for teaching the language and literacy demands of their own learning areas” (ACARA, 2014).

  • Grammar has been explicitly documented in the F-6 Australian Curriculum English: Strand: Language – Sub-Strand : Expressing and Developing Ideas, under sentences and clause-level grammar and word-level grammar. Grammar at sentence and word-level also carries over into the high school curriculum. It is vital that teachers understand these core grammatical concepts so that they can incorporate grammar creatively across a range of contexts in their classroom lessons.

References

Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority. (2015, December). Engish:Sequence of Content F-6 Strand: Language. Retrieved from http://docs.acara.edu.au/resources/English_-_Sequence_of_content.pdf

Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority. (2014). Australian Curriculum:English, F-10. Retrieved from Australian Curriculum: https://australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/english/

Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority. (March, 2020). National Literacy Learning Progression: Version 3.Retrieved from National Literacy Learning Progression (ofai.edu.au)

Baker, J., (2020, September 16). Half of NSW teachers say they were poorly trained to teach writing Retrieved from The Sydney Morning Herald https://www.smh.com.au/national/half-of-nsw-teachers-say-they-were-poorly-trained-to-teach-writing-20200915-p55vt0.

Department of Education. (2014). Review of the Australian Curriculum Final Report. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Education. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/review_of_the_national_curriculum_final_report.pdf

Jones, P., & Chen, H. (n.d.). Teachers’ knowledge about language:issues of pedagogy and expertise. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 35(2), 147-68. Retrieved from http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2540&context=edupapers

Macken-Horarik, M., Love, K., & Horarik, S. (2018). Rethinking Grammar in Language Arts:Insights from an Australian Survey of Teachers’ Subject Knowledge. Research in the Teaching of English, 52(3), 288-316.

Myhill, D., Jones, S., & Watson, A. (2013). Grammar matters: How teachers’ grammatical knowledge impacts on the teaching of writing. Teaching and Teacher Education, 36, 77-91.

National Curriculum Board. (2009). Shape of the Australian Curriculum:English. Melbourne: National Curriculum Board. Retrieved from http://docs.acara.edu.au/resources/Australian_Curriculum_-_English.pdf

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