In this digital age, the question of how important spelling, punctuation and grammar are to modern communications reoccurs time and again. This recent article in the TES news suggests that it is a major problem amongst teachers: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/does-teaching-have-a-literacy-problem
No matter what your thoughts on this topic, there is no escaping the fundamental truth: language is, quite simply, about communication. Errors and mistakes make it harder to interpret what someone is trying to tell us and the meaning can be confused or lost completely. Clarity breeds understanding and we are all dotted somewhere along the murky spectrum of coherence. It is our job as educators to raise our students above the mist of ambiguity… But what message does it send if our own online SPaG is far from perfect?
Fortunately, there is a superb new tool available to you – it is a browser add-on, and therefore does not require administrator rights in order to install it. Unlike the standard spelling and grammar check in Word, Grammarly functions directly in your web browser, which means it performs very comprehensive spelling, punctuation and grammar checks on anything you write in a browser window – this includes online email, posts that you might write on Facebook or Workplace, assignment briefs you write in Moodle and even reports to parents that you write directly in ProMonitor! If you write it in a browser window, Grammarly will check it.
At the moment, the free add-on of Grammarly supports Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers – it does not function in Internet Explorer or Edge without paying for an account. If you favour Google Chrome and you have a Google account that you sign into, the add-on will exist wherever you sign into your Google account. Simply search for Grammarly in Google and click on the Free Browser Extension link in the results page.
Then simply click on the ‘Add to Chrome’ button and within seconds the add-on will install itself and that’s it!
Once installed, you will spot that a green ‘G’ icon has appeared beside your URL bar. All your online writing is now being checked for SPaG by one of the most comprehensive tools in the world. The next time you are writing a comment for a student in ProMonitor, you will see the small green ‘G’ icon in the bottom right of the window; if the G turns to a number in red, you know there are some errors in what you have written, which will be highlighted by a red underline, similar to Word’s own spell-checker.
As soon as you hover over the potential error, Grammarly suggests the correction, and, unlike a lot of SPaG checkers, Grammarly also notices contextual errors. Where a traditional spell-check function might be happy to leave desert in place of dessert, the context engine of Grammarly will point out the nonsense in your sentence which you can then choose to correct or not (depending on if that was the effect you were aiming for!)
Overall, it’s a neat little tool, that’s free and very handy at correcting silly errors in online posts. If you regularly use the Chrome browser, it’s little to no effort to install it and gain the benefit of another pair of (digital) eyes scanning over what you are writing. Though Grammarly’s grammar engine will not transform you into Charles Dickens or William Wordsworth and no digital SPaG tool can truly replace a thorough proofreading, in the fast-paced world that we all inhabit today; it’s a great time and potential embarrassment saver!
Why not give it a try and let us know if it helps?