Language and especially grammar
Never a dull moment – unless you include parsing
In the period of ‘living memory’, teaching about language has been through several periods, traditional grammar teaching was still dominant in the 60s and early 70s, in the 80s there was much less teaching about language and much more actual use of it, then came the HMI reports of 1984 and 1986 that wanted more formal study, which led to the Kingman report and then the Language in the national Curriculum project and then to a dead end of government censorship --- and finally the QCA producing books which said Not whether but how [QCA, 2001] as if there was no debate to be had.; Through all these periods English teachers have continued to teach about language and its structure and its history and, a far as I can see, this continues.
Recently the EPPI team have done us all a favour by once more reviewing the research evidence about the connection between teaching grammar to pupils and their ability then to use this knowledge to improve their own language use, especially writing. I quote from their summary of findings on the EPPI site:
Taking into account the results and conclusions of the accompanying in-depth review on the teaching of formal grammar (Andrews et al., 2004) the main implication for policy of the current review is that the National Curriculum in England and accompanying guidance needs to be revised to take into account the findings of research: that the teaching of formal grammar (and its derivatives) is ineffective; and the teaching of sentence combining is one (of probably a number of) method(s) that is effective.
EPPI (2004) The effect of grammar teaching (sentence combining) in English on 5 to 16 year olds' accuracy and quality in written composition, The EPPI Centre, London
QCA (2001); Not whether but how: teaching grammar in English at Key Stages Three and Four,; QCA, London.