One of the best digital learning tools I have ever come across is Grammarly.
You might not know this about me, but I am not actually English speaking. I grew up speaking Afrikaans. I didn’t even take English on a first language level while at school. At university, we spoke so little English that in our final year my friends and I had a standard “English night” coffee date, where we would only speak English because we realised that we would need it once we enter the working world.
So you can understand that it was a daunting task when I decided to start Butterfly Classrooms in 2015 and realised that I would be writing in English…A LOT. Since I left university I spent a lot of time speaking English, so by now my spoken English is excellent, but my written English is still nothing to write home about.
And then one-day Grammarly popped up on my Facebook feed. I was somewhat desperate to try anything to make Butterfly Classrooms more professional, so I thought to give it a go. Within weeks I upgraded to the Premium version, and I have not looked back once.
Grammarly is a spell checker on steroids. Yes, I know Word does have its own spell checker, but you have probably come to the same realisation that the spell checker only picks up on the most obvious spelling mistakes and seldom on grammar mistakes. Grammarly picks up on everything. Not just errors but also on other little things you can do to make your writing better.
Some of my favourite features are:
Unnecessary words: I have a habit of using unnecessary words like “actually” or “so”. Grammarly is very quick to point out that the meaning of the sentence will stay the same even if I leave them out.
Overused words: We all have favourite words, but it often makes reading your work tedious, Grammarly quickly points out to you when you have overused a word.
It doesn’t auto-correct: This might seem like a negative, but I like the fact that unlike most spell checkers Grammarly does not automatically correct my writing. It identifies it and offers a solution (often with an explanation). Not only does it give me the freedom to choose if I want to change my work, but I can learn from it.
Plagiarism check: The content on Butterfly Classrooms are mostly freshly created, so I don’t use the plagiarism check that often. But if you are doing research and referring to sources the plagiarism check is great to keep you on track.
Great Feedback: The weekly email I receive from Grammarly might just be my favourite part. Every week I get to compete with myself and learn from my mistakes. As you can see, I have no idea where to put a comma in a sentence.
How does Grammarly work?
For most teachers, the free plan might just be what you need. It checks all your spelling and grammar, but you do not get the extra features. Create a free account and you are ready to go. I would suggest you add the extension to your Chrome browser, that way anything you type on Chrome will automatically be checked. You will also have access to the web-app where you can type your document and just copy and paste it once you have corrected all the mistakes.
However, if you are like me, you will quickly find that you are willing to pay the $139.99 per year to have all the extra features. If you are not convinced yet, give the free version a try, you have nothing to lose.
5 Reasons a teacher needs Grammarly
- No more embarrassing typos – teachers are in a constant battle to be seen as professionals. That image gets some serious damage if an email full of typos and spelling mistakes are sent out. If you are not a language specialist, make sure to put everything through Grammarly before you press print or send.
- Expand your vocabulary – research shows that most people regularly use about 2 000 – 3 000 unique words, that is less than 10% of the words they know. We tend to use the same words over and over. Grammarly makes suggestions as to alternatives. Not only does it improve your text, but it also expands the active vocabulary of your learners.
- Focus on the important stuff – Grammarly is not only for teachers; your learners can also benefit from it. Using Grammarly for assignments in their non-language subjects, both the learner and teacher can focus on what is essential, and that is the quality of their subject knowledge and not on their spelling and grammar skills. While at the same time making learners aware of spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Immediate feedback for learners – it is common knowledge that immediate feedback is a lot more useful than delayed feedback. If you are correcting spelling and grammar errors in learner’s essays because you want them to learn from their mistakes, you will find that Grammarly is so much better at it. Afterall you get informed of your error immediately.
- Personalised feedback – I have always known that the English language is not my strong suit, but it is only once I started using Grammarly that I could pinpoint my exact problems. Thanks to the weekly email I receive from Grammarly I now have a better idea of where my weakest points are, and I have been able to eliminate a number of them. There is no way that a teacher can pinpoint each learner’s Achilles heel, but Grammarly can and does do it. And the best is, it is not limited to writing in the English class, but across all their subjects.