The Business Writing Center has faculty who have published in journals about the teaching of writing. We have learned the best ways to develop grammar courses so the students learn the business grammar of greatest importance to them. This article explains the most effective way adult learners can learn in business grammar courses.
What We Know Doesn’t Work in Business Grammar Training
Drills and exercises that don’t focus on the skills each business person needs in business grammar do not teach grammar. Here’s what the National Council of Teachers of English wrote after studying grammar training and grammar courses:
This resolution was prompted by the continuing use of repetitive grammar drills and exercises in the teaching of English in many schools. Proposers pointed out that ample evidence from 50 years of research has shown the teaching of grammar in isolation does not lead to improvement in students’ speaking and writing, and that in fact, it hinders development of students’ oral and written language.” (On Grammar Exercises to Teach Speaking and Writing. NCTE Position Statement adopted at the 1985 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
A workshop with grammar rules flatly will not teach you how to avoid usage errors when you write. You must learn how to correct errors at your own pace in a grammar course by having a qualified instructor show you the errors in your own writing samples and help you understand how to write correctly in your own business writing. You must have personal, one-on-one grammar training.
Will Grammar Workshops and In-person Classes Teach Business Grammar?
Business writing workshops and classes students go through together by listening to an instructor speak the rules do not teach business grammar. Dr. Hogan, director of the Business Writing Center, has had his own research published in the journal Research in the Teaching of English
citing the fact that after a full semester of classes in college freshman writing, students show no significant improvement between pre-course writing samples and post-course samples. Grammar training requires individual attention that cannot happen in a classroom or workshop. It also requires that someone identify each student’s writing needs and give assignments tailored to those needs. Grammar workshops and grammar classes are not able to provide the individual attention.
What Makes Ideal Business Grammar Training?
Business-writing trainers know how to teach adults business grammar, language, punctuation, spelling, sentence clarity, vocabulary, and word usage. The research shows that to learn to use correct grammar, you must have these components in your training:
- You must have your own business grammar instructor who works with you throughout the business grammar course.
- Your instructor must go through your writing samples thoroughly, identifying business grammar training you need.
- You must receive a list of sentences with the same business grammar problems together, with corrections showing how the sentences should have been written so you can see how you are consistently making the same business grammar error.
- You must read about the business grammar rule that pertains to the error and show you understand the rule.
- Your instructor must evaluate your training and correct any misconceptions. The individualized attention is very important.
- You must rewrite your original documents applying the business grammar rules to see the writing in you own business writing.
- You must study the corrected sentences to be sure you can write them correctly on you own, then take a test containing sentences from your original business writing sample to show you can correct the errors from memory.
- Your instructor must evaluate the grammar test and coach you through anything you still need to learn.
The Business Writing Center’s Basic Grammar Course Tutorial contains this individualized training. You can learn more about the individualized writing training at this link: Basic Grammar Course Tutorial
The counterpart that uses the same methods to teach nonnative speakers of English to polish their language grammar is the Individualized Writing for Nonnative Speakers of English course. You can read about it at this link: Individualized Writing for Nonnative Speakers of English
A Second Option: A Basic Grammar Course with Rules Taught in Lessons
Though not as effective as individualized training, business people can learn to use correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and word usage in a business grammar course with lessons. This type of business grammar course is called a “survey course.” These are the components a business grammar course that is a survey must have:
- It must cover the major areas of business grammar.
- It must have an instructor available to coach you if you are having difficulty.
- The business grammar course must have a pre-test you take before the grammar course and a post-test you take after the course to ensure you have learned the skills.
- The grammar training must have pre-tests before each lesson and post-tests after each lesson to ensure you have learned the skills.
- The business grammar course lesson materials must have clear explanations anyone can understand easily.
- The grammar training must include examples so you can see how the rules are applied.
The Business Writing Center’s Basic Grammar Essentials
course and Basic Grammar for Business
course are examples of high-quality business grammar courses that teach the business grammar rules with lessons more like a college class.
The Basic Grammar Essentials
course is shorter, covering the essential business grammar rules with online materials. The course contains all the components required to teach grammar rules successfully.
The Basic Grammar for Business
course has more in-depth grammar training. It uses a grammar textbook with lessons from the textbook.
The course has a pre-test and post-test to help you learn how much you know at the beginning and how much you have learned. Each lesson also has a pre-test and post-test. Students who go through the course are all pleased with their knowledge of the rules after graduating.