Glossary: prescriptive

Explanation

A prescriptive approach to language tells people how they should speak and write. It contrasts with a descriptive approach, which aims to describe how people actually do use the language.

Attitudes to language use, variation and change

In this lesson, students will explore some of the different attitudes that people have towards language use, variation and change. They will be encouraged to adopt a critical approach to language study, thinking carefully about how language is intertwined with sociocultural factors. They will also be asked to reflect on their own attitudes to language.

Attitudes to new modes

In this lesson, students will explore new modes of communication such as texting, online chat, and Facebook, which often come in for criticism from people who believe that they are damaging the way we use language.

Grammar

We define grammar as the study of the structure of words and sentences. As such it is an abstract system, worthy of study in its own right. However, we also see grammar as a system that is used in a range of contexts to unlock meaning. We want to look at grammar not only in written language, but also in spoken English, in a range of multimodal forms, and in all its rich variety.

Grammar: What grammar isn't

One of the big misapprehensions about the word grammar is that it is all to do with getting things right or wrong. Grammar teaching in the past has often taken a prescriptive turn, and for many people of older generations the memory of grammar tests at school is often a painful one.

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