I have very clear memories of being a secondary and university student and being told that I needed to work on my sentences; as a new teacher, I fell into the category of teachers who wrote vagueries on my own students’ essays:

‘use more complex sentences’ … ‘your sentences are simple’.

Big sigh.

At the time I didn’t know I was wrong – just confusing another generation of learners. Now I know, and now I plan to right those wrongs.

Knowing the four sentence types (simple, compound, complex, compound-complex) and their associated problems (fragments, choppy, run-on etc.) makes writing SO much easier. Had I known about them twenty years ago, I’d have been far better set up for a career teaching English.

Writing essays would have been easier, manipulating language would have been far more fun.

By knowing the components of a sentence, punctuation is also easier to use. The more I work with sentence construction, the more I am convinced by its power for developing effective writing at all levels.

So why am I blogging about my crazed obsession today? My MA, of course!

There are a total of 99 days until October 22nd, 2011. So what? Big woop! Why should you care? In truth, you don’t have to care – I’m telling you because you’re here and you’re listening.

In that time, the research component of my non-fiction project is to be completed … or to go a bit more active: I have to finish the research for my NF module by 22nd October.

That’s 3 months and 7 days.

Or

2,376 hours, or

142,560 minutes, or

8,553,600 seconds

Aside from the 30+ books I’ve set as my reading list, I’m really looking forward to it. This week we were charged with composing our research schedules and to make a start on the week one work.

Rather handily, I’m in the UK for a couple of weeks, which gives me ample time to do some legwork: get out there and look in the bookshops that I just don’t have access to in Austria. To have a legitimate excuse to hang around in bookshops is something of a dream come true: I have a questionnaire, so it’s legit … right?! Of course if some book here or there catches my eye and pleads me to take it home with me and add it to the pile, who would I be to deny such a request?

My mission – I’ve already chosen to accept it – is to work out whether the gap I believe to be in the market is, in fact, there. I’ll be perusing the parental education support shelves, and flicking through the primary through tertiary writing guides to spot how much information there is available to teach students – and their parents – how to write sentences effectively.

Massive changes in the National Curriculum finally give students the chance to enjoy the intricacies of sentence construction, to learn the rules, so they can break them effectively. And we’re all about breaking the rules, provided you know what the rules are!

What happens to parents when their little darlings come home asking questions about sentence structures? About something parents didn’t even know exists?

Unlike algebra, which I’m sure we can all agree should be forgotten moments after learning it – that is if you understood it in the first place – learning sentence structures can help everyone in day-to-day life.

Parent or not, most of us have to use the written word to communicate in business as well, with e-mails, blogs, reports, memos. Sentence structures are the heroes of the writing word, and I’m going to spend the next few weeks working out how to fashion capes and superhero costumes, so they’re ready to take the country by storm.

Proofreader, copy-writer and copy-editor

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