The Gramatica story started many years ago when Greg Byrne was teaching English as a Second Language to overseas adults and trying to navigate his way through the maze of complexity and difficult rules that seemed to infiltrate every level of the language. It appeared that grammarians and academics had taken sole command of the terminology over the decades, with such terms as reduced relative clauses, predicates, adverbial phrases, cleft sentences, the subjunctive, fronting, semi-modals, zero conditional, subordinating conjunctions, reflexive pronouns and many others. He constantly thought, "There must be some simple governing principles on which the language is built and, most importantly, there has to be a better way to teach this."
Years later, when he started teaching undergraduate teachers at university, he encountered the same problems of content knowledge, except his students were people whose first language was English and, rather alarmingly, who were the next generation of teachers. Furthermore, they were confronted with a rather daunting perfect storm: they spoke the language but didn't know how to teach it; they were the products of a generation that didn't teach grammar in the primary classroom (as much as it had been taught in previous generations); and their state English curriculum demanded that they know how to teach it. It became clear then that teachers needed three things: knowledge of grammar based on user-friendly terminology, a methodology that incorporated both explicit teaching and constructivism, and a way to make grammar relevant to the primary student.
The Gramatica method didn't have a name then, but the principles (after many years of analysis, trial and error) certainly did. It was then, in the middle of marking, teaching ESL and beginning a Masters, that a colleague suggested the name Shoebox and Greg started on the Shoebox Grammar: Teachers Book.
Since then, the program has grown, with the new name Gramatica, an expanding presence in Western Australian schools, the website on which you are reading this, and forthcoming teaching videos and support material. .
What does it offer you? Better content knowledge, firstly, but also a methodology that embraces both explicit teaching and constructivism, relevance for students keen to express themselves, and lastly, a direct application to writing.