Knowledge is made through writing


Writing is indicative of knowledge about language and proficiency in the subject the student discusses in context. The current teaching orthodoxy focuses clearly on the improvement of sentence structure and uses extensive ‘knowledge about language’ and increased language awareness as a means to help pupils to write better English (Andrews, Torgerson, Beverton, Freeman, Locke, Low, Robinson & Zhu, 2006). As such, knowledge is gained through understanding the meaning of derivates and shown through writing and understanding the aspects of teaching and learning grammar.

Aspects of teaching grammar revolve around why the student should learn grammar and how he should learn it. Writing is then the basis of exemplifying knowledge in grammar. Construction of correct syntax and proving correlation of all aspects of proper syntax and tense in the syntax is the measure of knowledge in principal. According to Kane (1997), the whole point is to get students to use language correctly and well, so why not use examples from people who use language well? Her argument is the basis of using writing what others to showcase knowledge and level of knowledge of what has been understood have authored.

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A critical pedagogy

Grammar and writing are linked; to study one is to study the other. This is where grammar instruction in high school requires critical pedagogy. Lack of knowledge on students putting down their thoughts down on paper is due to lack of grammar and writing skills. This is the reason why, students have problem with their readings, revisions and communication. Teaching grammar in high school requires a cognitive rather a communicative methodology due to the learner variables. The students are difficult to teach due to their age. Age is a variable which onsets attitudes towards grammar. 15yrs-25yrs old are very poor due to stereo typing it (attitudes towards grammar).

Most teachers opt to seek communicative methodology as their basis of teaching. However, Murcia, &  Hilles (1988) argue that,  no actual empirical studies have been conducted that prove that “communicative” classrooms produce better language learners than the more traditional teacher-dominated classroom. Richards, & Rodgers (1986) points out that in spite of its intuitive appeal and anecdotal evidence which supports it, there is equally appealing and convincing evidence that a communicative approach can lead to the development of a broken, ungrammatical, pidginize form of the language beyond which students can never really progress. Knowledge is explicit; it is shown through language structures or rather sentences.

The student’s ideas are communicated through sentences which if properly constructed show proficiency and knowledge. This is efficiency in syntax formation. According to (Burgess, Tony, Turvey, Anne, Quarshie, Richard, (2000) experience of language work is gained in assisting children with their writing, especially in helping with the drafting and re-drafting of written work arising in the context of ongoing schemes of work. This makes writing integral in teaching and makes it the principal method to impart proficiency. In high school attitudes towards grammar as discussed by Krashen, 45% of high school students are good writers and listeners hence very good speakers and writers when taught cognitively. Speech is dependent on writing and listening skills, to impart knowledge to use these skills a cognitive approach is used.

A Teaching and grammar instruction is more effective is approached through advocating writing and revision. The  teacher should aim at achieving coherent, clear and effectively written papers and should always emphasize on the students taking enough time to improve their work through revising them and drafting them to quality.

It means the teacher employ hearing, speaking, writing and reading as the integral basis of learning. This methodology is comprehensive in improving the essentials of understanding and use of grammar easily through self-evaluation. The Speaking and writing form the basis of integrated learning and play a pivotal role in creating able learners of grammar.  The benefits of writing as the mechanism of imparting knowledge in high school students is that there is improved understanding of subject base, evolving subject base, ways of understanding, developing and applying knowledge; wider-discussion and examination of the inclusion of more writing within English programs.

Burgess, Turvey & Quashire (2000) argue that teachers should understand that there has to be a principled framework about the sort of knowledge grammar is. What is also needed is the opportunity for reconsidering their knowledge about the formal structures of language.

When teaching grammar in a high school, it’s notable that the problem of tenses is high in class even with the smart kids knowing how to speak grammar fluently. Writing becomes problematic with kids only being able to write present tense but failing to identify other tenses and having proficiency in syntax formation. ‘What teachers should be understood is that, ability in grammar is more related to composition in some other subjects than in English. (R Andrews et al, p 40)

Apart from syntax formation and tenses teaching the teachers experience difficulties in managing learning skills in the students and also improving on their skills. This is associated with the speech aspect of learning grammars that demean and stereotype the unable students; it creates a gap that the teacher has to fill through inducing enthusiasm and creating atmospheres that make learning grammar easy.

The need for rules, order and discipline is particularly acute in large classes of unruly and unmotivated teenagers. In this sort of situation grammar offers the teacher a structured system that can be taught and tested in methodical steps. The alternative – allowing learners simply to experience the language through communication – may simply be out of the question.

This means that putting teaching grammar first as a priority is quite important and also making the enthusiasm of learning grammar felt is also important. Kane (1997), point out that this is based on the teacher’s background when learning. Teachers can achieve a lot through teaching cognitively and making use of language instruction just by reading well-crafted texts to their students. Research has shown that teachers remember their own school grammar instruction without enthusiasm or pleasure, yet they tend to repeat that pattern with their own students (Brosnahan & Neuleib, 1995).

Knowledge of grammar is seen only through comprehension (writing) and its measured through the correctness of syntax. ‘Syntax is constraints which control acceptable word order within a sentence, or dominance relations (like head noun relative clause); and sentence combining as meaning: teaching techniques for splicing together simple sentences to make compound or complex ones. It can also cover sentence-embedding and other techniques for expanding and complicating the structure of sentences’ R. Andrews et al, p 42.

Most important is to understand other variables so as to make teaching grammar effective. It therefore requires a particular kind of methodology, taking into account cultural, social and other contextual issues. Tentatively, high school students can learn the principles of generative grammar; knowledge of generative grammar enables such students to increase the proportion of well-formed sentences they write; and that knowledge of generative grammar can enable students to reduce the occurrence of errors in writing, R. Andrews et al, p 46. Teachers should comprehensively cover ‘sentence combining instruction which is effective in improving the sentence-combining skills’ and has a positive impact on writing quality. The teacher should realize that sentence combining is an effective means of improving the syntactic maturity of students in English between the ages of 5 and 16.

  Teaching grammar as the key to having knowledge is one thing but there is need to identify the theoretical positions adopted in the study of English inform or challenge notions based on the practice and study of writing. The association of knowledge with the subject of English and with the subject of Writing need to be understood and their philosophic and pragmatic dimensions comprehensively researched English and Writing fall under the same cluster of studies and they form the basis of portraying knowledge and evaluating level of knowledge in the student, there is need understand what are there pedagogic developments that occur through having shared and comprehensive learning of writing and grammar for the purpose of attaining knowledge,.

According to Knights & Harper (2007) there is need to understand (so that we can apply); in what ways does the association of English and writing produce what might be called “responsive critical understanding” (ie. critical understanding that responds to the needs of the “critic” [ie. those applying critical consideration], in terms of explanation, an approach to truth, requirement.


Teaching grammar in high school should be based on a participatory approach due to learner variables and attitudes towards grammar in high school students. Systematic review of the effect of grammar teaching in English on 5–16-year-olds’ accuracy and quality in written composition has been the most extensive undertaken.


(Burgess, Tony, Turvey, Anne, Quarshie, Richard, 2000), Teaching Grammar: working with student teachers. Changing English: Studies in Reading & Culture, Mar2000, Vol. 7, Issue 1(

(Burgess, Tony, Turvey, Anne, Quarshie, Richard, 2000): Teaching Grammar: working with student teachers: Studies in Reading & Culture Mar2000, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p7-21, 15p(

(Kane, 1997): Teaching skills within meaningful contexts: Grammar in action; (in ‘The Reading Teacher’ Vol. 51, No. 1) pp 70-72 (

(Brosnahan,I., & Neuleib, J, 1995). Teaching grammar affectively: Learning to like grammar. In S. Hunter & R. Waliace (Eds.), The place of grammar in writing instruction (pp. 204-212) Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook. (

(Burgess, Tony, Turvey, Anne, Quarshie, Richard, 2000): Teaching Grammar: working with student teachers (in ‘the editors of Changing English) pp 7-17(

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