interview with Elizabeth
from English Grammar Revolution
Elizabeth O'Brien is a professional Grammar Instructor.
She teaches homeschoolers and classroom teachers to be confident
grammar instructors themselves.
She has worked with hundreds of learners, created the awesomeEnglish Grammar Revolution website, and created several courses and
eBooks. These courses and eBooks help people learn grammar in an
interesting, visual way.
Elizabeth's wonderful website is loaded with helpful, simple
explanations on English grammar.
Subjects such as the parts of speech, parts of a sentence, tenses and
others are clearly explained with colorful examples and many exercises.
I can personally say that making the different grammar concepts visual
using sentence diagrams + Elizabeth's crystal clear explanations truly
simplify the whole subject.
So I'm very happy to have her answering some questions for us grammar
1. Elizabeth, so since
when are youa
grammar lover? :)
I didn't become a grammar lover until I took an excellent grammar class
in college. The funny thing is that before that class, I hated grammar.
Up until that point, I had never been taught properly, and I had done
very poorly on grammar tests.
My college professor taught grammar in a structured way and used
sentence diagramming in her lessons. Because of her logical
presentation of ideas and the visual nature of the sentence diagrams, I
was able to understand grammar, and I eventually turned into a grammar
2. Your site is very much
focused on sentence
diagramming. What is it actually?
Sentence diagramming is super cool! It's basically a visual way to show
how all of the parts of a sentence are related. It's also kind of
addictive because diagramming a sentence is like solving a puzzle.
3. How can it help teach
grammar better? Can you share some success stories from using it?
It helps people understand grammar by making the relationship between
words, phrases, and clauses visual. Instead of simply memorizing
abstract definitions, students can look at sentence diagrams and SEE
how the elements in the sentence are functioning.
I've had countless people write to me and tell me that my programs have
finally taught them grammar, they're earning better grades, and their
writing is clearer. The other comment that I hear a lot is that
teaching or learning with sentence diagrams makes grammar instruction
enjoyable for teachers and students.
4. What are the top three
pieces of advice you would give teachers or parents teaching grammar?
A) Know what you're teaching. This may sound obvious, but teachers and
parents are so busy that sometimes it's easy for them to go into a
lesson with only a mediocre understanding of the material.
Knowing your subject inside and out is important for clearly
communicating ideas to others. It's okay to be just a few steps ahead
of your students, but be sure that you understand those few steps
clearly. If you're confused, your students are going to be confused too.
(Aside from possibly confusing students if you don't know the subject
properly, you'll also be a less confident teacher. That's no fun.)
B) Like what you're teaching. I can guarantee that your attitude about
a subject will rub off on your students. If you think grammar is
boring, your students are going to have the same attitude.
If you don't like a subject that you have to teach, find a resource
that approaches the subject from a positive light.
C) Don't be afraid of sentence diagramming! The popular cultural view
of diagramming sentences is negative. I'm not really sure why. Maybe
teachers used to be really mean when they taught sentence diagramming
in the past . . .
Don't let this false view of diagramming dissuade you from using it in
your classroom. Seriously. Both you and your students will understand
grammar and have more fun if you use sentence diagramming in your
5. What are some of the
most common mistakes you see grammar instructors make?
They think grammar is inherently boring, and they make no attempt to
liven it up. (It's not true, people! Grammar can be fun!)
6. You offer several
grammar programs. Whom are these programs for? What can one expect to
achieve from them?
My programs are for fifth graders through adults. If you're a student,
you can use them as self-guided lessons, and if you're a teacher, you
can use them as lesson plans. The goal with all of them is to help you
and your students understand grammar through a logical presentation of
material and with the help of sentence diagramming.
With that program, I take you through the parts of speech and basic
sentence diagramming as if you're a student in my classroom. You watch
me teach you all of these concepts right on your computer! You
can watch the videos online or download them onto your computer to use
whenever you want.
8. Your newest program
Smart – Daily Lessons & Diagrams. It's a very extensive
program, which provides daily mini-lessons we can use with our students
over the course of a school year (37 weeks). Can you tell us more about
Yes! I'm so excited about this program. With it, you get all of the
video from the Basic English Grammar Video Lessons, and you also get
daily lessons and sentence diagrams to use with your students.
I know that many teachers don't have a lot of extra time in the
classroom, so this program is focused on teaching (or learning) grammar
in just a few minutes each day.
This program allows you to teach or learn grammar easily without wading
through websites or textbooks. It gives you everything you need to
quickly and simply teach or learn grammar the easy way.
actually got to see inside and I liked what I saw! :) ]
9. Finally, if people
want to learn more from you and your fabulous website, where can they
find you on the web?
Cool! These were some
awesome tips and advice. Thanks a lot for sharing, Elizabeth!
And I'll leave you with a sample of Elizabeth's work – a
video where she teaches a English verbs (action verbs, linking
verbs and helping verbs). Note that this is a shortened version. You
get the full version with the Basic English Grammar Video Lessons.