Grammar Made Easy
A guide for parents and teachers
by Barbara Dykes
Reviewed by Beverley Paine
Grammar is about knowing how to put words together correctly to make sense. It is about knowing the part that each word plays in a sentence so that we can both understand it in reading and use it correctly in writing."
Thus begins Barbara Dyke's book Grammar Made Easy: A guide for parents and teachers available from Quantum Literacy. It is meant to be used in conjunction with their Down to Earth Grammar series of step-by-step workborks for students, however, as a natural learner I bought my copy to use in the same way I used our maths dictionary with the children.
Spoken grammar is considerably different from written grammar. As an unschooled child and budding writer Thomas learned grammar on the job, usually by adopting the grammatical style of articles he read. This is a hit and miss method and works well for those who write often. Using a style or grammar dictionary is a better way to help those who write infrequently craft their sentences so that meaning is conveyed clearly. Published writers often refer to style dictionaries, such as the Style Manual, Penguin Working Words or The Elements of Style. There are also online grammar guides and I always have the grammar check function turned on while using MS Word.
What I like about Barbara's Grammar Made Easy is that it's a compact book, clearly set out and contains a small section of exercises to check your understanding in each Part. The exercises are sufficient to enable me to create some of my own, should my child need extra reinforcing. It's easy to tell when this is necessary for an unschooled writer: over a few months you'll notice the same grammatical mistake occuring, even after you've demonstrated the convention a couple of times. A concentrated and focussed short lesson spent running through the principles and doing a few examples from Grammar Made Easy should be enough to 'fix' the grammar in place.
For a schooled-at-home child and parent the book provides an invaluable understanding into the parts of language as the child progresses through his or her English books. Most of us have forgotten what we were taught in primary school (if we were ever taught grammar in the first place!) The book is a handy reference for answering questions, or for helping children understand how and why certain words or phrases are used in particular ways.
Part 1 covers the parts of speech; Part 2 covers punctuations; Part 3 extends verbs (the most useful and powerful of words and all too often underused); Part 4 looks at sentence construction; Part 5 goes into some of the common mistakes made and gives you a list of words that are often misused and how to use them correctly.
At close on 200 pages this Grammar Made Easy is definitely good value for money and a great reference book for any home.
Quantum Literacy, PO ox 56, Kalbar Qld, 4309.
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