How software can teach good grammar

January 5, 1996

Vincent Mitchell (THES, December 22) chooses to ignore the actual problem facing many present-day students. An important reason why they find it difficult to read books is their inadequate knowledge of English grammar and hence compre-hension of written argument.

Ironically, computerised grammar checkers could help. The software has several advantages over a printed grammar book. While the available checking tools are frequently inaccurate, the best software contains an accessible, electronic grammar database. If this is used appropriately, it provides an excellent learning resource. Students can be taught critically to assess the errors flagged by the checking tool, using the rules and examples set out in the database. They can then make an informed judgement of the validity of the highlighted errors. Thus, the relevant information about grammar is provided in a contextual setting and can be applied directly to any piece of writing produced on a word processor. Such an approach can produce dramatic improvements.

Jane Moran Senior lecturer School of Modern Languages Middlesex University

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