Students should explore and develop an understanding of grammar, or the way words and phrases are formed and combined. See also morphology and syntax.
English in the New Zealand Curriculum, page 17
This section provides a guide to understanding the internal structure of sentences and words, and the related terminology. The main purpose is to provide a useful reference for teachers. It is important that they have a secure knowledge of the structure of English so that they can understand and describe the language they and their students use and develop. This book has not been written for use as a classroom text but rather for teachers to draw on as they need.
The planning and writing of this section has involved making certain decisions. An eclectic approach has been used rather than the approach of any one linguistic school. The material here has been adapted from a number of sources, which are listed in Useful Books. The two major works by Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik have been general references, along with Katharine Perera's book Children's Writing and Reading: Analysing classroom language. Wherever possible in this section, traditional terms have been chosen because they are familiar to many teachers and are widely used. Sometimes the definitions here will differ from those in the older traditional grammar books.
It is customary for people who write grammar books to work through the differentcategories in an orderly manner, either beginning with the word and ending with the sentence or beginning with the sentence and finishing with the word. In this book, however, we have developed an approach that might seem less tidily organised. We have ordered and presented the information so that teachers can begin with terms and concepts that are familiar, such as noun, verb, subject, and object, and move from these to those that are less familiar. The text is written as a form of narrative, introducing new elements as they are needed and building on what has gone before.
Because this book is designed for use by teachers from years 1 to 13, it has to accommodate many different requirements. There are certain basic elements of grammar that everyone needs to know. There is extra information that might be needed by teachers of senior classes or by teachers who have second-language learners in their classes. Where this extension or additional information occurs, it is separately identified.
Additional material that we hope will be useful to teachers has also been included in this section. We have linked some material in The Grammar Toolbox to information about children's language development. We have also provided some examples from other languages, especially Màori, in order to show contrasts, to explain why second language learners might have difficulties, and to demonstrate that the way the English language does things is not necessarily the only possible or logical way. Some relevant references are included about language and gender and about the historical development of English.
The writers of The Grammar Toolbox consulted widely. This consultation was important because the terminology set out here is to be used in all New Zealand schools, and it is essential that it is not only useful and appropriate but also accurately defined and illustrated. Some university linguists were especially helpful with their advice, and some of their recommendations were adopted. However, because the book is primarily for teachers, it was necessary to find a balance between relevance and completeness. Sometimes the full, carefully explained accounts of some aspects of grammar, as provided by linguists, were more detailed or complex than teachers needed for their everyday use. Therefore on some occasions we have taken the risk of presenting a simpler account, at the same time hoping that those who are interested and curious will go beyond this book to the more comprehensive and detailed descriptions available from other sources. Recognising the many demands on teachers' time, we have sometimes opted for short and simple accounts of complex subjects, necessarily making some compromises for the sake of comprehension and accessibility.
For some, The Grammar Toolbox will be introducing new content and concepts. It is important, therefore, that teachers take the time and effort to become familiar with its contents in order to make it useful both for them and for their students.
Exploring Language is reproduced by permission of the publishers Learning Media Limited on behalf of Ministry of Education, P O Box 3293, Wellington, New Zealand, © Crown, 1996.
Published on: 24 Feb 2009