It’s a scenario we’ve all faced at some point in our lives: we read back an email, a report, or a scribbled whiteboard, only to see we’ve made a glaring SPaG mistake. It’s usually a stray apostrophe, sometimes a misspelled word, but whatever the error, it’s enough to send a trickle of fear down our spine. For some reason, teaching SPaG can still reduce teachers to jelly – even English teachers. But why? Why is something so simple, the cause of so much stress?
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Cool, calm and collected?
First and foremost, it’s an issue of confidence. The English language can be a tricky beast; its quirks of grammar and spelling can tie even the most competent English aficionado in knots. You can lie awake at night for hours, mulling over such conundrums as: Why is it different from but similar to? Why is it its for possession but it’s for contraction? Why does the effect of teaching affect people differently? And how – just how – is queue even a word?
Of course, there are perfectly reasonable answers to all these questions, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of SPaG comes down to rules that you either know or you don’t know. And even if you think you do know the rules, there’s often a little bird on your shoulder asking you if you’re really, truly sure. Isn’t there a possibility (maybe even a probability) that you’re wrong?
The thing that really knocks confidence is being shown up, and that’s where SPaG pedants come into their own. These are the strange creatures who return letters or emails with apostrophe errors marked in red pen; they are the people who pretend they can’t possibly understand what you’re saying because you used the wrong spelling of licence. They may masquerade under the guise of being helpful, but SPaG pedants are usually anything but. They can reduce the most hardened of teachers to quivering wrecks with just a red pen and a dictionary.
An outdated curriculum for teaching SPaG
Nowadays, primary schools hammer home the importance of fronted adverbials and the average Year Six can spot a noun phrase at seven paces. But it wasn’t always so. If you’re a teacher who grew up in the ‘70s or ‘80s, chances are that you never received a formal grounding in grammar. SPaG slipped off the curriculum when you were growing up, and now that it’s back, it seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb.
Dull, dull, dull
There are, apparently, some people who love teaching SPaG. Legend has it they emerge from their underground burrows once every winter to revel in teaching such delights as adjective placement, before they retreat to their dark and dingy holes for another year. But seriously… most of us feel a dip of dread when we know we have to teach SPaG – it can be a dry subject at the best of times, and squeezing it in among other teaching can seem arduous in the extreme. Small wonder then, that some of us push it to one side for as long as we can.
So, what’s the answer to teaching SPaG?
Well, there’s probably no magical solution to teaching SPaG: if you hate it, chances are you’ll never learn to really love it. But you can make teaching SPaG easier on yourself. Beyond has just launched a range of over 250 spelling, punctuation and grammar resources to help you and your students feel more confident with SPaG. From adjectives to apostrophes, semi-colons to sentence structures, past tense to paragraphs, there’s a worksheet, game or lesson pack to plug all the SPaG gaps you might encounter. Or, if you prefer, simply choose one of our SPaG units of work and cover all the relevant subjects over the course of a few weeks.
Some of the resources are old favourites, some have been redesigned to appeal to SPaG-hating secondary students, and some are brand-spanking-new resources. All are accessible, engaging and accurate. It’s a no-brainer, really: dip into our SPaG collection and see how much time (and stress) you could save. And maybe, just maybe, you can beat the SPaG pedants at their own game.
Head over to our main website here and don’t forget to read even more of our blogs here! You can also subscribe to Beyond for access to thousands of secondary teaching resources. You can sign up for a free account here and take a look around at our free resources before you subscribe too.