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Teaching grammar and composition through letter writing in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England

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Abstract

Letter-writing instruction grew in importance as a learning tool in the Late Modern period because of its practical application to real-life situations. The vernacular had become the language of the educated, and the rising middle classes needed literacy skills to prepare for their vocations. The British Empire was growing and changing. Industrial centers were forming and trade to foreign ports increased, both of which demanded language competence. Letter writing reinforced grammar and composition skills in order for students to be successful. This study will investigate how schoolmasters used letter-writing assignments to improve literacy, teach grammar rules, and develop writing strategies, paying special attention to the earliest stages of this process, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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