The Visual Language of Grammar: Grammar for the Visual Student

Throughout this blog, I often refer to attention deficit as “a difference” because, despite what you may hear or infer, it is not a cognitive disability. Although in some cases learning challenges tag along with ADHD, more often our brains simply function differently than others and thus, we feel impaired because we have a difficult time excelling in traditional settings or systems. For more posts on our unique ways of processing information and the intricate world we live in, check out the following posts:
The Legend of the Mermaid : Believe in Your Differences
ADHD Kids: Nurture their Strengths, Value their Weaknesses
Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences
In fifth grade, learning grammar came as a challenge for me. At nine years old, I simply did not possess the organizational skills needed to absorb and interpret grammar (these came later in life). With acronyms on the rise (LOL, BRB, ROFL, and the new favorite, YOLO), some turn up their noses at grammar as an outdated system. However, by organizing written and spoken language, grammar actually helps us communicate effectively.

To those monkey minds in the back, rolling their eyes, check out the Huffington Post’s series of funny grammar mistakes, and then grant me a few more sentences to convince you.

I’d like to introduce “the art of diagramming sentences.” Over the years I’ve discovered that I am a visual learner. If I can’t picture the material before me, it’s difficult for me to process and remember it. This goes for every from math, to directions, to even people (by their faces). For the visual learner, here is a solution that I wish was presented to me as a 5th grade grammar student:

IMAGE source: http://www.journal33.org/other/html/diagram.gif

In A Picture of Language and the follow up article Taming Sentences Kitty Burns Florey discusses an alternative to parsing, the traditional method of disassembling sentences in their constituent parts. This alternative comes from the inventive mind of Stephen Watkins Clark, former principal at the Cortland Academy where he also taught English. Like many of us visual learners who struggle to learn grammar, Florey summarizes that Clark, “was frustrated trying to beat proper grammar into the heads of his students by means of parsing. Mr. Clark was not the first reformer to identify its problems, but he was the first to solve them by arranging the parts of a sentence into diagrams.”

In addition to the two New York Times articles above, this site offers a clear and succinct introduction to learning grammar through the art of diagramming sentences: Welcome To Diagramming Sentences!

Because, hey, if Barach Obama has tried it out, this method can’t be half bad.
Image Source: http://www.earlyedcoverage.org/obama-thumb.jpg 

Do you consider yourself a visual learner? No? Then how do you learn best? Maybe your mind responds be to auditory (hearing) or kinesthetic (touch) learning.