Word classes and teaching
Why is it important to know about word classes in order to teach English to pupils at KS3?
Word classes help us to discuss and explain more precisely the effects of our own and others’ writing.
The National Curriculum for English at Key Stages 3 and 4 has this requirement:
Writing: Language Structure
The Key Stage 3 National Strategy: Framework for teaching English: Years 7, 8 and 9 contains the following objectives:
Year 7 Word level – Vocabulary
To continue developing their vocabulary pupils should be able to:
Word level – Vocabulary
Stylistic Conventions of Non-fiction
Standard English and language variation
Year 9 Word level – vocabulary
KS3 pupils’ strengths and weaknesses
KS3 pupils lack explicit awareness of grammar. It is only in school that pupils learn to talk about word classes and to use them as tools for thinking about language and using it better. Recognising how words work gives pupils the freedom to make conscious choices from a number of possible language effects
How to teach word classes
Teaching word classes will be more successful if the teacher starts from examples.
Starting from examples helps pupils to home in on the word classes they already know, as English speakers.
Using examples is more effective than attempting definitions, such as “an adjective is a describing word”. Such definitions rarely work; for example, verbs can be descriptive too. Definitions can be misleading, and divert attention from exploring grammatical concepts.
The KS3 National Strategy: Framework for teaching English years 7, 8 and 9 favours an approach which:
It does not encourage memorised definitions; these are against the spirit of this approach to grammar teaching.