Fountain Valley High School

Should English DGP be done department-wide?

Huntington Beach Union High School District (HBUHSD) English teachers and English professors from nearby colleges such as Golden West College (GWC) and the Coast colleges were present at a recent meeting held at GWC. The meeting was an eye opener for high school English teachers and addressed several strengths and weaknesses of freshman college students in the subject of English.

“The meeting was meant to give high school senior English teachers a sense of what they’re [college professors] looking for in college classes as well of a sense of how kids get placed in English 100 classes or remedial classes like an English 90 class,” said Amy Hollingsworth, an English teacher and head of the English department at Fountain Valley High School.

A notable comment was made by the college professors regarding grammar. They mentioned students were doing well, but wished students had a better handle on grammar.

According to FVHS English teacher Doug Wilton, only around a fifth of English teachers at FVHS do daily grammar practice (DGP) with their students. The meeting revealed that college freshmen students appeared to be unprepared for grammar and poses a question: should the English department incorporate daily grammar practices?

Grammar is important in every language. It provides clarity in writing and makes verbal communication easier. When we speak with one another, grammar may not seem to be very important, because there’s no need to know where to place a comma or correctly spell a homophone. However, the importance of grammar is much more evident in writing. Grammatical mistakes in writing causes the content to be difficult to understand. English is a difficult language to teach and learn due to the many grammatical rules it has.

“I think it’s [grammar] just one of those things that’s really difficult, and even the Golden West people said that they understand,” said Hollingsworth.

Since the English grammatical rules we learn are not definite and applicable to every word or sentence, grammar has to be practiced often rather than just memorized. Wilton believes doing daily grammar practice is similar to taking a daily multivitamin pill. It becomes a routine thing, and though DGP takes only a few minutes to do, it is packed with information. Because of the complexity of grammar, practicing it by occasion is just not enough.

–Karen Phan