This cloud-based software is a favorite of mine for students who struggle with any number of aspects of written language. It is a particularly useful tool for students who struggle with expressive language formulation and syntax, word retrieval, vocabulary, encoding (i.e., spelling), and executive functioning.

At its core, this is a spelling and grammar check that is much more advanced than what you get with Microsoft Word.  For example, Grammarly finds homophone errors or word choice errors based on the context of your sentence.  It also checks for grammatical and style elements, such as fragments, wordy sentences, missing commas after phrases/transitions, over-used words, and repetitive wording.  You can double-click on any word to get synonym suggestions, which is a unique and highly useful tool for many of my students, whether he/she is struggling to find that perfect word, has a particularly word too many times already in their writing, or is using unspecific/generally overused words in their writing. The ability to quickly double-click on the word to see a variety of synonyms, organized by definition in a way that makes it easy for a student to navigate, is much easier and more effective than sending the student to an online thesaurus every time this situation arises.   Also, since Grammarly’s software checks for commonly overused words or words that have been used many times in the student’s writing already, the student is often able to identify moments to use the synonym checker without a parent or teacher having to point it out to them!

Grammarly’s interface is very intuitive and easy for students. It’s one of the only apps/strategies for which every single student I have shown it to has responded positively!  While the student is writing, the corrections appear in a column to the right of the working document, and all the student has to do is click the green correction to make the replacement.  If the student needs help, there’s a button he/she can click to get more information about the reasoning behind Grammarly’s suggested correction and even examples of the concept. Basically, the student can get a mini-lesson on the topic of whatever their mistake is.

For older students, there’s a useful plagiarism checker button that scours the internet to make sure nothing has been plagiarized, with the bonus feature of providing automatic APA and MLA citations for the text it finds.  This tool is especially beneficial for those students who struggle with the numerous steps involved in citations as well as problem-solving when he/she is unable to find the necessary information to cite the source. When the student is done writing, there is also a paid proofreading service. The student can pay an additional fee to send their writing to a Grammarly proofreader to help them edit and revise their work.

When the student is done writing, he/she can easily copy and paste the work into Microsoft Word or a Google Doc to submit without formatting trouble. There is the option to install the program on your computer to use when offline as well, but all documents will link to your student’s cloud account, where he/she will have a home page with all of his/her documents, accessible from any computer. If you install the internet browser plugin, Grammarly automatically runs a check on any text you are typing on the web (this work is not saved on your home page). There’s a small, unobtrusive icon in the corner of the email/text box you’re typing in. I use this feature all the time when writing emails or otherwise filling in text online (like this post!) to check over what I’ve written and to use the synonym checker to help me replace my repetitive wording!

What sets this app apart I believe is not only the variety and effectiveness of its features, but also the intuitiveness of the layout that makes it easy for students to enhance their writing without frustration. I have often seen students give up on a tool because it was “glitchy” – typically meaning they couldn’t figure out how to use the features correctly without hindering the writing process or over-burdening them with additional steps.

Grammarly is free if you’d like to try the basic version, but the premium version catches about twice as many mistakes, so in my opinion, it is a necessary upgrade. I would never support anything I didn’t whole-heartedly believe in for financial gain, and my opinions about Grammarly are solely my own based on my experiences with the software. That said, if you do decide to sign up and use the link below, I will receive a referral bonus, not that I need any incentive to support this program. It’s truly one of my favorite written language tools for my students of all ages! You can download the app here: Grammarly