Sentence Diagramming Practice

Learn English Grammar – Visually

An interview with Elizabeth O'Brien 
from English Grammar Revolution

Elizabeth O'Brien
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 awesome English 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. 

Her step-by-step approach uses sentence diagramming to teach grammar systematically.

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 instructors.

1. Elizabeth, so since when are you a 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 lover! 

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 lessons. 

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. 

7. One of your programs (Basic English Grammar Video Lessons) actually teaches grammar through video! Can you tell us more about it? How does that work?

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 is Get 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 it?

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.

[Ola's note: I actually got to see inside and I liked what I saw! :) ]

Get Smart – Daily Lessons &Diagrams

9. Finally, if people want to learn more from you and your fabulous website, where can they find you on the web?

Here are all of the places you'll find me:

Join the grammar revolution! 

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.

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