Welcome to the English Grammar Course 3: Direct and indirect speech, voice and register, cohesive devices and ambiguity and punctuation!
In this third course (of the 3), you will learn:
- in Unit 7: about direct and indirect (reported) speech and what changes occur when we report other people's words without quoting them directly;
- in Unit 8: about how active and passive voice work as well as about different ways of changing informal language to more formal;
- in Unit 9: about different tools to make our text more cohesive and about different types of ambiguity that may occur (common in jokes!);
- in Unit 10: about a variety of punctuation marks and when and how they are used - this includes full stops, commas, apostrophes, colons, semi-colons and hyphens and dashes.
This course is one part of a 3-course package; it is designed to teach you about the most important elements of the English grammar that anyone with an interest in the language or requiring it for professional reasons should know. Originally, the course was designed for school teachers working in England - the selection of the grammar elements and topic here is based on the grammar teaching/learning requirements of Department of Education here in English primary schools. However, the topics covered here are perfectly accessible to anyone who is not in the teaching profession - teaching strategies are not part of this course and the sole focus of the course is on raising awareness of English grammar. Anyone interested in grammar will benefit.
However, if you are a teacher currently working in England, scroll down to the section at the bottom of this description as there is some information that is directly relevant to you.
The course is divided into 10 Units, which include 33 short video lessons:
- Unit 1 – Words, sentences and letters
- Unit 2 – Parts of speech and sentence
- Unit 3 – Word formation and meaning
- Unit 4 – Types of sentences
- Unit 5 – Tenses
- Unit 6 – Clauses and complex sentences
- Unit 7 – Direct and indirect speech
- Unit 8 – Voice and register
- Unit 9 – Cohesive devices and ambiguity
- Unit 10 – Punctuation
For teachers working in English schools:
Currently, the Department for Education requires pupils in primary schools to be introduced to and taught certain areas of the English grammar between year 1 to 6. These areas are specified on pages 65-69 of English programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2: National Curriculum in England. By Key Stage 3 (secondary level), according to English programmes of study: key stage 3: National Curriculum for England, “pupils should be taught to: consolidate and build on their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary through: extending and applying the grammatical knowledge set out in English Appendix 2 to the key stage 1 and 2 programmes of study to analyse more challenging texts.” (p.5).
This is a great plan; however, Britain has a recent history of grammar not being formally taught at schools, which means that many people who are currently teachers in our schools did not receive such formal introduction to grammar themselves. What is perhaps more troubling is the fact that, despite the requirement to extend and apply the grammatical knowledge for the benefit of students in their secondary school years, the same teachers receive very little, if any, in-service grammar awareness training. With the growing population of English as an Additional Language learners in schools across Britain, this need grows even direr: EAL learners really do need explicit grammar teaching (in the context of the curriculum, of course): this means that as a teacher, you need to have the awareness of certain elements of grammar in order to explain it to them. For other learners, as the DfE themselves suggests, greater awareness of grammar will allow them to better analyse more challenging texts. I would also add that it will allow them to be in greater control of their own use of language and give them more options for expressing their thoughts on paper and in speech.
This course is about growing awareness of grammar itself. As teachers, we work in many different, very specific, contexts. You might be working in a school with very few EAL learners, for instance, or, indeed, in a school where 80% of learners have English as an Additional Language. You might be working in a school where literacy levels of your students lower than average, or you might be a Year 11 English intervention teacher. Contexts are many: therefore, this course does not offer any particular “what works” strategies. It simply aims to equip you with a certain amount of English grammar awareness, which you should be able to use to design your own methodologies, strategies and activities as you see fit for the benefit of your learners. One size certainly does not fit all!
This course is not designed for linguists. If you are one – or even if you are not – you are likely going to find certain areas that are not covered here that you think should be included. The material in this course is based, predominantly on the DfE Appendix 2 (as mentioned above): those areas that pupils completing Year 6 of their primary education are expected to know. Of course, as teachers, we always need to know a little bit more than the bare minimum of any area we teach. Therefore, occasionally, you will find included some information beyond the immediate requirements of the National Curriculum for primary years.
There are often many terms used for the same or similar concepts in different English grammar traditions. You might find that you know certain terms by different names. For instance, some will recognise the Present Progressive as Present Continuous, and gerund might be termed otherwise by certain linguists. In the creation of this course, I needed to make decisions at times which terminology to choose to be included here.