A patent-pending grammar checking technology provides another (digital) set of eyes.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
More than three million writers worldwide trust Grammarly’s products, which are also licensed by more than 150 leading universities and corporations. The product makes a meaningful impact in users’ lives; students get better grades, professionals accelerate their career progress, and language learners improve their written English. Moreover, Grammarly currently has more than 900,000 enthusiastic and engaged Facebook fans, if that says anything. But this isn’t just another Microsoft Word checker; it’s a lightning fast, non-evaluative and very smart personal grammar coach that provides any level of student with an extraordinarily helpful boost to their ability to articulately express themselves through the written word. Brad Hoover (pictured), CEO of Grammarly, discusses why such rapid growth of this cool tool and what it means for the future of education.
Victor: Why was Grammarly founded?
Brad: Writing is a critically important communication form that is becoming even more important as the world goes digital. Grammarly was created to provide an easy way for students, professionals, job seekers, and language learners to write accurately — while passively increasing their knowledge of English grammar.
Victor: How is Grammarly different than Microsoft Word’s spell and grammar checker?
Brad: Grammarly utilizes sophisticated algorithms and powerful cloud-based computers to identify and correct English spelling and grammar mistakes. Grammarly’s technology catches significantly more errors than competitors, while also offering unique features such as writing enhancement and citation suggestions. Grammarly can be accessed 24×7 from any computer via the Internet.
Victor: Why are writing enhancement tools necessary?
Brad: Whether a student or professional, most everyone writes something daily. Good writing is critical to success — be it achieving better grades, finding a job, or receiving a promotion.
Grammarly recently reviewed 100 LinkedIn profiles of English-speaking professionals in the consumer packaged goods industry. Each of the professionals worked for no more than three employers over the first 10 years of their career. Half were promoted to director-level or above within those 10 years, and the other half were not. We found that professionals with fewer grammar errors in their profiles achieved higher positions, and that fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions.
Victor: You have some pretty good numbers – How fast was your ride up, did it take you aback?
Brad: Since Grammarly was founded in 2008, we’ve doubled most metrics annually. This includes, revenue, number of site visitors, team members, and more. This year, we were named #344 in Inc. 500’s list of fastest growing private companies. We’re very proud of our fast growth, but as there are nearly two billion native and non-native English language speakers worldwide, we have a long way to go before we’ve reached everyone.
Victor: What’s the future outlook for Grammarly? Plans?
Brad: Grammarly’s grammar checker is built around a powerful and ever-evolving algorithm. Our goal is not to replace teachers or proofreaders, but rather to supplement both — providing students, professionals, and advanced language learners with an automated, cost-effective, accurate, and always-available tool to help improve their writing. We’ve already introduced an extension for Internet browsers, and a plugin for Microsoft Office users. We’re looking forward to making Grammarly available everywhere users write in the coming years.
Victor: Thoughts on education in general these days?
Brad: U.S. News & World Report, in a recent study examining SAT results, reported that “The writing portion of the exam seemed to give students the most trouble, as 55 percent did not meet the benchmark in this section.”
High school students usually overestimate their college-readiness, particularly in terms of writing. An advisory committee of the National Writing Project, through lengthy debate and study, identified some basic truths about writing in college, which include:
- Almost all grades in college are based on a student’s writing, both papers and exams.
- College students are likely to write in all subject areas.
- Students are expected to plan, revise, and carefully proofread their work.
This is surprising to many people—to the unprepared students most of all. Grammarly helps to close this gap for students. It’s critical to utilize anything that works to close this gap, including more one-on-one instruction and new tools like Grammarly.
Victor: Thoughts on the future of education?
Brad: As communication becomes increasingly digital, clear, accurate writing is becoming even more important. At the same time, writing skills are declining. Professors across the curriculum increasingly find that they need to do more of the heavy lifting in writing instruction to get students caught up to their standards. Blame for this is often placed on multimedia exposure, shortcomings of previous teachers, and misdirected curriculum standards. Regardless of the source of the problem, current students are faced with the difficulty of how to improve their writing now.
When it comes to helping students improve their writing, it’s important to have various tools available. By effectively guiding students step-by-step through the editing process and helping them to learn from their mistakes, Grammarly builds writer skill and confidence, while complementing broader writing education efforts.
Grammarly produces immediate writing improvement in higher education—be it for essays, theses, reports, dissertations, or other writing assignments. In a survey of more than 800 students who used Grammarly, nearly all reported an overall positive impact on their writing grades, and the vast majority (84 percent) saw their course grades improve by at least a half-grade or more.
Victor Rivero is the Editor in Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: [email protected]