I apologize in advance to any English teacher that may read this post. This isn’t meant as a replacement for teachers. Rather, I want to discuss how it’s possible for parents to use technology to improve their child’s grammar.
Many people have said that technology is actually ruining grammar. How can it possible help improve something it’s destroying? With all the lols, LGTMs, and other shorthand it’s easy to see how some argue tech is the bad guy. Let’s not even get into how texts are barely written in proper English. However, it is possible that tech can help with our grammar woes. With many children returning to virtual classrooms this fall, it seems like a good time to review a few tech tools to improve your child’s grammar.
The Root of the Problem
I’ll go on record to say that it wasn’t the schools that let us down. It was the cell phone manufacturers. In days of yore T9 texting, or text on 9 keys, was the only option for a mobile phone. We did not yet have a full keyboard. Some folks might know what I’m talking about. For those how do not see the image below. That’s a T9 keyboard. You have to press the same key multiple times to get the correct letter. Naturally, people started cutting out letters and writing in shorthand to make it easier to send a message. Punctuation all but went out the window.
Today our smartphones have full keyboards. No longer can we use inconvenience as an excuse for poor grammar. Making the case even strong are a suite of tech tools that will correct your writing faster than you can text omg i cant belive this is rel how can tech b this kul?
Improve Your Child’s Grammar With Technology
First on our list is Grammarly. This is one that I personally use and it is amazing! A simple Chrome extension is all that is needed to get going. Grammarly checks your writing for mistakes. When an error is encountered it suggests a replacement.
What is super cool about Grammarly is that it works in Gmail, Google Docs, Facebook, Yelp, and pretty much anywhere you enter text. The Chrome extension automatically checks your writing. So if you produce more errors than you should, Grammarly will be your new best friend.
For kids, Grammarly can be a great tool to understand when they use the wrong grammar. A feature I’m particularly fond of is the weekly emails. I receive an email each week with my ranking compared to last week. It includes how many unique words I have used and my error count. The gamification makes it even more exciting and your kids are sure to love the competition with siblings or friends.
Grammarly even has us covered on mobile devices where we (or at least I) really shine with errors. The app is available for your smartphone and corrects your grammar as you are typing. Gone are the days of mixing up “their” and “there”. Your kids and colleagues will be impressed with your newfound mastery of English. Even better, your children will be able to learn as they go with Grammarly.
Grammarly comes in a free version that has basic functionality. It will highlight critical grammar and spelling errors. Paid plans start at $11.66/month (billed annually) or $29.95/month if you prefer to go month to month. The paid version has more bells and whistles, such as a plagiarism detector and suggestions for vocabulary enhancement.
Papa would be proud of those who want to improve their writing. The Hemingway Editor is an excellent tool for those more serious writers. Grammarly is great for catching the small stuff, but Hemingway takes it to a new level.
One standout feature is that the Editor checks for the use of passive voice and assesses reading difficulty. For students, and adults, who need to speak to a specific audience this is a lifesaver.
Hemingway is available for free via the web. You can download and run the tool on Mac or Windows machines for $19.99. The paid version includes additional features, but the free web-based version will suffice for most of your writing needs.
Finally, for those of you who thought Papa at the beginning meant your father or grandfather I was in fact referring to Earnest Hemingway. Don’t say you never learned anything new from NerdyDads 🙂
Use an App
If even one person has a need for something an app likely exists to solve that need. English grammar is no different. Smartphone apps are yet another means by which you can improve your child’s grammar. Many of these apps are designed as quizzes, exercises, and learning games. They help keep your child’s skills sharp while also keeping them entertained. Learning + fun = a parent’s dream!
If you’ve reached this point and feel that apps and extensions are going to rule your writing life, don’t fret. These tools are designed to help us when we get stuck. Thankfully the English language doesn’t change frequently. If you and your children can nail the basics that’s great. Picking up some advanced techniques to stand out never hurts. Between the tech tools, online resources, and good ‘ol fashioned education your children should quickly rise to the top of their grammar class.
As a dad and tech-focused blog we tend to encourage the use of tech. We again encourage you to use tech with your family. However, if you use a solution that provides a weekly analysis, such as Grammarly, I also advise you to make it a fun family challenge. Who uses the most unique words? Who always forgets to use proper punctuation? Use tech to discover who in your family is the ultimate writer!