K is for Kernel Sentences: Nouns and Verbs Control the World
Today we will focus on some easy grammar:
A kernel sentence is one type of base sentence structure on which longer sentences can be built. It has a pattern that looks like this:
For now, fill in the slots with one noun and one verb and you will have a kernel sentence. These two words can easily be expanded into longer sentences at another time.
One way to do have fun doing this is to write S-V list poems.
Begin with a title, then add specific, present-tense, active verbs to expand the topic. Repeat the title at the end, perhaps adding a twist.
Be creative and have fun with this. Brainstorm topics with students, then let them have a go at it. You will be surprised at the results.
So what. Who cares?
When students get a very firm handle on nouns and verbs, grammatical problems eventually disappear.
Teachers can teach the following concepts in very simple form using kernel sentences. It is much easier to see the patterns in two-word sentences. When students master the concept in the simplest form, they can then move on to expanding sentences.
- subject-verb agreement
- verb tense consistency
- active verbs
- parallel structure
- vocabulary nuances
A firm handle on nouns and verbs will later help students reduce long sentences down to kernel sentences. If students can do this, they will be able to straighten out some of the most common errors.
- sentence fragments
- fused sentences (comma splice)
- run-on sentences
- lack of agreement between subject and verb
- verb tense shifts in sentences
- faulty parallel structure
- punctuation errors
Of course, any programs designed to improve students’ speaking and writing must have lots of opportunity for conversation and creative and academic writing. Writing subject/verb poems is only one aspect of a much larger focus on language, but it can help those students who are unsure of basic sentence structure concepts. Spend a few minutes each class on grammatical structures and your students will learn patterns that will help them improve in both speaking (ESOL) and writing.
The Last Meow
I have only one word for you all: