Tag: grammar

The Great Grammar Debate: An Introduction

The Great Grammar DebateThis is the first post in a series on the grammar debate among consultants and the larger field of writing center studies. Here at MSU we see lots of clients who come to us for help with “grammar,” which we then caution that we do more than grammar and are interested in having a conversation about their writing, versus just pointing out grammatical “errors.”

But, at the same time, grammar IS what we do. For example, a resume or personal statement, high stakes documents, with grammatical errors may restrict a client from getting a job, getting into graduate school, or receiving a scholarship.

We don’t require our consultants to be grammar experts; I, for one, am certainly not. But I did stick pretty closely to grammar conventions of Standard American English for this blog post. Would you have read this far if I had not? What would it mean, or even look like, to not write with these conventions? To not consultant or tutor with these conventions? This series on The Great Grammar Debate considers these questions, and more.

At MSU we have consultants who love grammar, some who dislike grammar, and a lot of folks who are indifferent. As such, in this series you’ll hear from a variety of viewpoints. Our intention is not to arrive at an answer or to come out on one side or the other. We believe there are multiple perspectives to this debate, however it’s important to destabilize a seemingly invincible understanding of grammar in writing centers.

From the Oatmeal: Comics for Grammar

link to "When to use i.e. in a sentence" on The OatmealThere are always those pesky little grammar rules that everyone seems to struggle with, like when to use a semicolon or when to use “i.e.” But The Oatmeal has catchy little comics that have a funny way of helping you remember these rules.  You can check these comics while writing to check your own grammar or you can browse them at anytime to find out ways to improve your future writing.  But it is a fun and new way to look at grammar, that isn’t plain and boring.

From Grammar Girl: Point of What?

Did you ever have POV written on your paper? “Point of View” is the perspective that you write from. First, second or third person can be confusing, and picking the right perspective for your paper is very important. Take a look at Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips on Point of View for a nice summary. You can also bring your writing into The Writing Center!

Introducing Our Podcast Archive

In the transition to our new website we’ve also been harvesting content from the old website, which means we’ve found some awesome Writing Center gems. Like an assortment of informative podcasts! Rather than let these podcasts vanish into the ether, we’ve decided to archive them on our new site. You can find the entire collection in our Podcast Archive. But first let me tell you a bit about what we have to offer.

The archive is broken down into three collections: Writing Center produced podcasts, Writing Center workshops and presentations, and guest lectures and workshops.

The Writing Center produced podcasts include topics like citations, primary sources, resumes, and thesis statements, as well as a three-part series on writing with poetry. Each of these podcasts is about 5 minutes long, and is scripted to cover the basics of each topic. For example, the Citations podcast explains why giving credit with citations is important, introduces MLA, APA, and Chicago styles, and discusses the use of in-text citations and works cited pages. These quickly delivered podcasts would be great support material for writing instructors.

The Podcast Archive also features a robust collection of Writing Center workshops and presentations given by Writing Center staff and faculty. This includes workshops on personal statements, Comic Life, and poster displays using CRAP principles (contrast, repetition, arrangement, and proximity), as well as presentations on the use of podcasts in writing centers, grammar as a higher order concern, professional development, and a presentation given by our very own associate director, Dianna Baldwin, on the use of Second Life, an online virtual world, in writing centers. Dianna speaks a bit about the history of SL and argues that SL brings personal connection back to online consulting through the use of the voice feature, as well as gestures controlled by the user. *

And finally, our last collection of podcasts in the archive is guest lectures and workshops featuring three scholars in the field of rhetoric and composition: Dr. Paul Matsuda, Director of Second Language Writing at Arizona State University; Dr. Tony Silva, Director of ESL Graduate and Writing Programs at Purdue University; and Dr. Kirk St. Amant, Associate Professor of Technical and Professional Communication at East Carolina University specializing in global education in online environments. Each of these scholars were guests at Michigan State, and we are fortunate to have podcasts of these events for folks to listen to and learn from.

We hope this rich and varied collection of knowledge and expertise available in our Podcast Archive will make it to your playlists, and perhaps even your writing courses.


*The Writing Center at MSU has a satellite location in Second Life, with appointments from 9am – 10pm Monday – Thursday, and 9am – 2pm Friday. Schedule a Second Life consultation!