Author Topic: "My Grammar Goals"--students taking charge of their own grammar improvement  (Read 1698 times)

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Offline ChristineW

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I teach an advanced EAP course that's mostly focused on research papers, so I don't have much  time in class to talk about grammar even though many of my students still need MUCH improvement :) This semester I started assigning "My Grammar Goals"--an activity to get students to reflect on their grammar/punctuation/style and take charge of their own improvement. Near the beginning of each unit, I ask students to write a 1-2 paragraph reflection called "My Grammar Goals" in which they 1) identify ONE area of grammar/punctuation/style that they want to improve in (e.g. comma use, avoiding fragments, verb  tense), and 2) identify ONE SPECIFIC way in which they will actively improve in that area before the next major assignment (e.g. consult a textbook or style guide, ask a native speaker, come to office hours). I then look for each student's improvement in their next major assignment and focus my grammar feedback on their target area. I also give general feedback on other issues to point them towards a new goal for the following unit and suggest ways to improve. They are then free to use my feedback or their own judgment in choosing a Grammar Goal for the next unit.

 I would like to incorporate more actual revising into this method, but I think overall it is a good way to set students on the  path of taking charge of their development as English writers, in a way that they can continue beyond the class.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2014, 01:02:30 PM by ChristineW »

Offline danieljohnson

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I think this is a good way of managing two problems at once. First of all, it helps to narrow students' focus from "My grammar needs improvement" to identifying specific issues. For them, I think that while it might be distressing to maybe "let some of it go," it should also help them if they can limit their focus and only deal with one major issue at a time. That might be a better way to encourage improvement than just having them think that their grammar is bad in general and that they need to work on it in general.

This also helps to alleviate the age-old concern over how much grammar correction to provide as a teacher. At higher levels, it's impractical and a waste of time to try to correct everything. With these Grammar Goals, the students identify what they want you to look for, which then frees you up to only address other issues as they arise (i.e. when they affect meaning or intelligibility).