A Writing Overview – The Role of Grammar in Writing

by Marshall Cavendish Education | Jan 22, 2020

 
The emphasis of writing in English Language learning

 Level/Subject

Examination

Weightage (%) of Writing Components

Time Allocation

Primary/
English

Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE)

27.5

1 hour 10 minutes

Secondary/ English Language

Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level

35

1 hour 50 minutes

Pre-university/ General Paper

Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced Level Higher 1

50

1 hour 30 minutes

Following the typical education path a child takes in Singapore, from primary to secondary before pre-university/college to university, we see an increased emphasis on the need to acquire good writing skills; to develop a good narrative within a word limit in a stipulated time frame, as observed in the table above.

What makes good writing?

The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina suggests that ‘the act of writing, beyond putting pen to paper, is linear in its creation of logical relationships that develops an idea into something meaningful that someone else may receive and perhaps find interesting (The Writing Center, 2020)’. More than reiterating a series of events in chronological order, good writing shows clarity and coherence when finding a close match between language expression and writer intention. Hence, the writing process integrates well with the learning of grammar in context to the various text types, including texts written by the writer/student himself/herself. 

Why learning grammar in context is important?

The extract below shows the published Cambridge IGCSE May/June 2019 mark scheme/rubrics for the grading of the Language component in the Writing paper.


Highly accurate writing, apart from very occasional slips.

  • Sentence structures varied for particular effects
  • Verb forms largely correct and appropriate tenses consistently used
  • Vocabulary wide and precise
  • Punctuation accurate and helpful
  • Spelling accurate, apart from very occasional slips
  • Paragraphs have unity, are linked, and show evidence of planning

Appropriateness and Content

  • Consistently relevant. Interest aroused and sustained
  • Tone and register entirely appropriate
  • Descriptions have well-developed images helping to create complex atmospheres
  • Arguments are well-developed, logical, even complex
  • Narratives are com­plex, sophisticated, possibly tense and may contain devices such as flashbacks­­ 

 
Beyond a wide range of exuberant vocabulary and the accurate use of spelling and punctuation, readers/examiners look for descriptive language and occasional use of literary devices to help sustain reader attention. Rather than ploughing through a vast variety of isolated grammatical concepts, a student may find it more effective to focus on those elements which are ‘essential for the clear communication of meaning (Chin, 2000)’, especially for his/her preferred text type or writing style.

In the upcoming articles, we will explore “Grammar Rules!”, a context-based approach to learning grammar, written by Tanya Gibb based on the award-winning series Grammar Rules! 2nd Edition by Macmillan Science and Education Australia Pty Ltd and discover how the series can boost your child’s writing skills. Stay tuned!

 

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