A friend recently asked me “Are you constantly learning?” to which my answer was, yes! I think it’s a bit of an addiction of mine, I just love learning new things. I love the sense of achievement you feel from completing a project, gaining a new qualification or passing an exam.
There are so many things on my list of things to learn and I get frustrated as I don’t always have enough time to learn everything I want to. The world is full of so many things to see, do and learn and I truly believe the possibilities are endless. Learning new things opens up so many new opportunities, it can change your way of thinking and change your life. I am so lucky to have been born in a time where information and learning materials are so readily available.
Along with all my current endeavours, I’ve recently decided to try to improve my grammar. There are a few reasons for this:
- I was educated at home and I have always believed there are some gaps in my knowledge
- I completed a proofreading and editing diploma last year and decided that grammar was something I should try to improve on
- As a technical communicator, spelling, grammar and punctuation are a big part of the profession
- I am looking to complete a TEFL course by the end of this year, so really want to brush up on my skills
Earlier this year I attended a 1-day workshop called “Brush up your Grammar” I won’t go into too much detail about the course provider, but the day was pretty stressful. The ability of the group was extremely mixed, from complete newbies (me) to fully fledged editors who wanted to improve their confidence. The teacher running the class was what I would describe as a typical school teacher (yes I know I was educated at home, but I did go to Primary school!) and every time she looked at me to ask a question, I just wanted to throw a smoke bomb and disappear like a magician. I felt a bit ridiculous, I’m an adult, surely another adult shouldn’t make me feel so intimidated?? She asked me half way through “you are very quiet, is everything okay?” to which I nervously answered that I was fine, cue smoke bomb.
I left the course feeling incredibly disheartened – is my grammar really that bad? Am I really that stupid? Are squinting modifiers real? The whole day was meant to make me feel better about myself…and learn new things! But I just walked away feeling crap.
After reflecting on the situation, I realised that, okay, maybe my grammar isn’t that good, but it’s not THAT bad either. At the end of the day, the course wasn’t actually that good. It was truly death by PowerPoint (or death by handout) the exercises were all the same, and completed individually. The course provider really needed to have a pre-assessment, because the teacher struggled with the differing pace of the class, and to prevent embarrassment of students with a lower ability, maybe they should have set out some prerequisites? What do you NEED to know before attending the class? Because the tutor made some pretty big assumptions.
It would have been nice to have had some learning objectives – what should I have been able to do after the course? The description for the workshop was very brief, but maybe I expected too much? After all, it was only £200, but my feelings are you could pay less and get a whole lot more. I would have liked to have seen some group work and activities, especially in the afternoon. Adults like this stuff too! The workshop included a posh buffet lunch, which was great! But at 2pm that 4th bread roll was really messing with my attention span, as I tried to complete a written exercise about misplaced correlatives.
This course aimed to help me brush up on my grammar, instead I was left feeling a bit embarrassed (as I walked out of the class with my tail between my legs). So what did I take away from the experience? That courses and workshops should not leave the learner feeling less confident than when they first entered the room. My personal aim is to ensure that any classes I teach and any e-learning courses I create, have clear outcomes and prerequisites. Maybe I can’t teach a student everything they want to know, but I promise that they will never leave a room feeling disheartened or unconfident. They will always learn something – a small piece of knowledge or a small change in attitude.
On the up side, the experience didn’t put my off wanting to learn more about grammar. I’m still learning and I’m still improving, maybe it’s not my strongest skill, but maybe one day, it just might be!
If you would like to brush up on your grammar, there are a lot of free resources available online. Below are some useful links: