by Tanya Gilliatt


In this article, I will apply Hubbard’s (2006) evaluation framework combined with Sokolik’s (2001) checklist to determine how useful Grammarly might be to teachers seeking to integrate the technology into their writing classes. The teaching background here is Ukraine and Ukrainian students, though I believe that the conclusions I draw are of universal benefit.

Though many teachers will not necessarily need or want an analysis of Grammarly per se to convince them of its usefulness in the classroom, my secondary objective in this article is to present a common approach to the evaluation of teaching resources. It is important to evaluate the technology we bring into the classroom, but this should not be an ad hoc evaluation, as such an approach risks missing shortcomings that could prove crucial.

For readers who are interested in developing their academic skills, or who are considering Master’s level studies, this example might prove useful.

What is Grammarly?

Grammarly is a “cross-platform cloud-based writing assistant” (Wikipedia) in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used to review spelling, punctuation, grammar, clarity, engagement, and delivery, as well as to detect plagiarism of written pieces. Ukrainian software developers Alex Shevchenko, Max Lytvyn, and Dmytro Lider launched it in 2009, and optimization for Google Docs was established in 2018.

According to its developers, the primary objective of Grammarly is “to help people understand each other, whenever and wherever they communicate in English” ( It is used by 30 million people and 30,000 teams globally. Grammarly is claimed to deal effectively with repetitive language, lengthy sentences, and incorrect spelling, punctuation and grammar, all in the hope of helping writers to send a clear message to their audience.

The Evaluation of Grammarly using a checklist

My assessment of the functionality of Grammarly is based on Hubbard’s (2006) evaluation framework combined with Sokolik’s (2001) checklist. The main objective of the evaluation is to help teachers select the most efficient software for use in the language classroom and assess the practicality of its self-use by students (Hubbard, 2006). Though this can all be done without the formal involvement of a checklist, I believe that using the appropriate framework can ameliorate certain problems that come with the otherwise random or biased selection of resources in teaching (among which we can consider the difference between what the teacher thinks of as an ‘easy-to-use’ resource and what the students think of as the same).

The Technical Preview

According to Hubbard (2006), the Technical preview should be done at the initial stage, which means that the availability of the software for all participants of the learning process is a key factor. In this sense, we can see that Grammarly can be used with different operating systems and digital devices. It is supported by Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and the World Wide Web. Its developers encourage users to “Enable Grammarly wherever you type. Use it on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and thousands of other websites” ( The quality of the Internet connection is sufficient in the majority of areas in Ukraine to minimize technical issues while using Grammarly. Also, the application does not make use of large video files that might require faster Internet connections.

Conclusion: Grammarly is suitable for use on any device by any student with an Internet connection, regardless of the quality of that connection.

The Operational Description

The next point to take into account is the Operational description, which reviews the different elements of the software and how they operate with or without the user’s control. Hubbard (2006) highlights activity type elements, and the presentational scheme should be investigated. The first aspect to be explored is screen layout or u, which includes the appearance on screen, colours, fonts, control, graphics quality, video and audio, placement, and presence. In the same vein, Sokolik (2001) states that “good instructional material should be attractive” (Sokolik, 2001:485), with colours being visually engaging and fonts not having serifs (these are the ‘decorative’ edges that you find with a font like Times New Roman; Helvetica and Arial are both sans-serif and tend to be easier to read on screens). Red and green colours should be avoided since they are not recognized by color blind users. Instead, Sokolik (2001) suggests that greys, soft whites, blues, and browns are preferable as they are better for reading. Grammarly employs pastel colours which make its use comfortable and convenient. Colour coding is used to draw attention to incorrect sentences, and words underlined in red, green or blue indicate different types of errors. The fonts utilized by Grammarly are sans-serif and are easy to read. Graphics are small, and their use is minimal, which facilitates site loading in areas with slow Internet.

Another category is Timing which, according to Hubbard (2006), is relevant for some software that comes with built-in time limits for use. Grammarly does not limit the time allowed for various activities. Sokolik (2001) also considers navigation an important assessment criterion to investigate. Actions using the resource should be easy to perform, and the user should not encounter any difficulties navigating between links. Grammarly is a user-friendly and straightforward application that does not require clicking through “screen after screen in order to reach a particular piece of information” (Sokolik, 2001:486). Hubbard’s (2006) list includes the control options, user input and input judging, but these apply in only a very marginal sense to Grammarly, as users can either paste in their piece of writing or type it directly in the relevant box on the screen. The option is very convenient since it is simple to perform and not time-consuming.

Feedback, which is “a key part of the description of the presentational scheme” (Hubbard, 2006:12), gains fundamental importance in the evaluation framework since Grammarly was developed to advance English language learners’ writing skills. The role of grammar in writing development cannot be underestimated, and “the provision of feedback on grammar is a central topic in L2 grammar teaching and learning” (Heift and Vyatkina, 2017:35). The effects of different types of corrective feedback (CF) have been investigated by many studies, such as Bowles (2005), Nagata (1993), Heift (2004), Lado et al. (2014) and others, supporting the beneficial role of metalinguistic feedback in CALL. At the same time, some research (Moreno, 2007, Kregar, 2011) has provided a counterpoint, providing evidence for text enhancement to be more efficient. Studies by Lyster and Saito (2010) report that output-prompting CF facilitates L2 acquisition since language learners obtain better control over the grammatical structures they have partially learnt (Ellis, 2015).

Grammarly provides indirect feedback by drawing learners’ attention to the language items which have to be changed. This way, not only do the students correct their errors, but they also learn to paraphrase sentences and use synonyms or synonymous expressions, which enhances their writing skills overall. In addition, when CF is output-prompting, it accelerates the development of language learners’ independence because a review of grammatical structures or vocabulary can be performed without the teacher’s assistance. On the other hand, when a teacher’s support is required, indirect CF can guide teachers by indicating gaps in the learners’ language knowledge.

Other aspects of writing checked by Grammarly are clarity, engagement, and delivery; thus, the range of writing skills to develop is not limited to grammatical items. Finally, all pieces of writing can be checked for plagiarism. As Chun, Kern and Smith (2016) maintain, many young users of the Internet view online resources “as freely available raw material to be used however they see fit” (Chun, Kern and Smith, 2016:69). Ukrainian language learners tend to plagiarize essays and other texts since penalties can be easily avoided. This feature of Grammarly is a valuable tool for language teachers as it allows them to detect plagiarized parts of written texts and highlights the importance of academic integrity. Surprisingly, while preparing for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Ukrainian students tend to find writing samples on the Internet and submit them as their own homework. Hence, Grammarly’s plagiarism detector is a tool that can help teachers to address the topic of academic standards and ethics.

The final element of the presentational scheme in Operational description is Help options. According to Hubbard (2006), assistance should be contextualized and available at any time. Grammarly offers support to its users in the form of tips and tutorials regarding the use of the application and for the resolution of technical issues and problems with signing in. There are numerous videos on YouTube providing guidance and detailed explanations to users on how to employ different features of the application. These videos make Grammarly easy to use for self-study.

Teacher fit

The evaluator should investigate if a digital tool provides meaningful and contextualized practice; leads students to correct answers by giving them different hints; accepts varying options of correct answers within a particular context; provides explanations for the right answers; and anticipates incorrect answers and explains why they are wrong (Hubbard, 1988).

Applying the above assessment criteria to Grammarly, it can be observed that the application points out errors in the writing yet does not always explain why the original was deemed incorrect. However, learners receive some guidance and suggestions to enhance their writing skills. While explanations for the correct options are not supplied, the application suggests a rephrase or rearrangement, as well as improved sentence structures for the learners to consider. As a result, language learners can see the alternatives to their original formulations, learn new words by exploring suggested synonyms, and pay more attention to grammar and lexical patterns while writing. Such feedback helps language learners “to notice the gap between their knowledge and the correct linguistic form, such as grammar” (Li, 2016:607). According to Li (2016), computer-mediated feedback facilitates the language learning process by providing “immediate, accurate, consistent and individualized feedback” (Li, 2016:607). A study by Thi and Nikolov (2021) reports that 88.9% of respondents improved their grammar by using Grammarly feedback, while 77.8% of participants enhanced their vocabulary through the application.

The value of computer-assisted feedback for teachers is that it lightens the feedback burden that is a part of teaching practice (Thi and Nikolov, 2021). The research by Thi and Nikolov (2021) has given evidence on Grammarly's efficacy as an effective tool that saves language teachers’ time and effort for providing feedback. Additionally, they maintain that when combined with teacher feedback, Grammarly enhances the efficiency of teacher feedback. In general, their findings point out “the great potential for integrating Grammarly feedback into writing instruction, supplementing teacher feedback, as reported in previous studies” (Thi and Nikolov, 2021:9).

Learner fit

Attention must now turn to the learner, since it is the learner who will use the technology to develop their understanding of the language. The elements of the Learner fit criterion are learning style (preferred learning strategies and motivational orientations), classroom management (how the software is used – individually or in groups, to what degree the learners should be monitored), linguistic objectives, and the language skills targeted by the software (Hubbard, 2006:15). Additionally, according to Hubbard (2006), language difficulty, program difficulty, and content are linked to learner variables and the syllabus.

Grammarly has numerous benefits for language learners. First of all, it can be used by learners with different native languages and levels of proficiency. Grammarly can match diverse learning styles and be used individually and in groups, with or without teacher assistance. Also, learners’ writing styles can be retained as the application only recommends changes to the original text - it does not enforce such changes.


While digital tools supply a wide range of services for their users, Sokolik (2001) states that computer programs are unable to provide customized feedback. A good teacher will always know more about their students than any app or piece of software will, they can give more detailed and personalized feedback to address particular areas in need of improvement. Also, according to Sokolik (2001), the software does not take into account context or different registers, such as academic conventions of use for “English written for the humanities versus that written for the sciences” (Sokolik, 2001:480). The (current) inability of computer programs to evaluate the relevance of essays to the topics and “read” a text and write relevant comments on it” (Sokolik, 2001:481) is another flaw of computer-mediated feedback. Thi and Nikolov (2021) mention some other limitations, namely the priority given to the surface characteristics of writing, such as grammatical correctness (Hyland & Hyland, 2006), “failing to interpret meaning, infer communicative intent, or evaluate the quality of argumentation, and the one-size-fits-all nature” (Thi and Nikolov, 2021:3). However, these imperfections do not diminish the positive effects of Grammarly on the advancement of the learners’ writing skills.


I have sought to do two things in this article. First, I wanted to demonstrate the use of a structured form of evaluation of software tools for use in the classroom. I believe that following a well-designed structure will help teachers to avoid personal blindspots; I can think of many occasions when a teacher wanted their students to use a particular piece of software, only to discover that the students were unable to use it for one reason or another. Such situations can be avoided through the application of rigorous evaluation criteria like those described in this article.

The second aim of the article was to discuss the use of Grammarly in the EFL classroom; the conclusions to draw here are perhaps less clear-cut than in the first case. Grammarly fits the bill in terms of accessibility and ease of use - as the evaluation has demonstrated - but in terms of helping students to learn more effectively, more research is certainly needed. That said, the research that exists at least suggests that the use of Grammarly will do little harm to learning outcomes, and thus the app represents a fairly safe option for both teachers and learners.


Bowles, M. (2005) ‘Effects of verbalization condition and type of feedback on L2 development in a CALL task’. PhD dissertation, Georgetown University.

Chun, D. et al. (2016) ‘Technology in language use, language teaching, and language learning’, Modern Language Journal, Vol. 100, Supplement (2016), pp. 64-80.

Ellis, R. (2015) Understanding Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Heift, T. (2004) “Corrective Feedback and Learner Uptake in CALL.” ReCALL, 16(2), pp. 416–431.

Heift, T. and Vyatkina, N. ‘Technologies for teaching and learning L2 grammar’, in Chapelle, C. and Sauro, S. (eds.) (2017) The Handbook of Technology and Second Language Teaching and Learning, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 26-44.

Hubbard, P. (2006) ‘Evaluating CALL software’, in Ducate, L. and Arnold, N. (eds.) (2006) Calling on CALL: From Theory and Research to New Directions in Foreign Language Teaching. San Marcos: CALICO. Pre-publication copy.

Hyland, K. and Hyland, F. (2006) ‘Feedback on second language students’ writing’, Language Teaching, 39(2), pp. 83–101. Available at Accessed: January 5, 2022.

Kregar, S. (2011) ‘Relative effectiveness of corrective feedback types in computer‐assisted language learning’. PhD dissertation, Florida State University.

Lado, B. et al. (2014) ‘A Fine‐grained analysis of the effects of negative evidence with and without metalinguistic information in language development’, Language Teaching Research, 18(3), pp. 320–244.

Li L. (2016) ‘CALL tools for lexico-grammatical acquisition’, in Farr, F. and Murray, L. (eds.) (2016) The Routledge Handbook of Language Learning and Technology, London: Routledge, pp. 601-621.

Lyster, R. and Saito, K. (2010) ‘Oral feedback in classroom SLA’, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32(2), pp. 265–302.

Moreno, N. (2007) ‘The effects of type of task and type of feedback on L2 development in CALL’. PhD dissertation, Georgetown University.

Nagata, N. (1993) ‘Intelligent computer feedback for second language instruction’, Modern Language Journal, 77(3), pp. 330–338.

Sokolik, M. (2001) ‘Computers in Language Teaching’, in Celce-Murcia, M. (ed.) (2001) Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, 3rrd edn., Boston: Heinle & Heinle, pp. 477-488.

Susser, B. (2001) ‘A defense of checklists for software evaluation’, ReCALL, 13(2), pp. 261-276.

Thi, N. and Nikolov, M. (2021) ‘How teacher and grammarly feedback complement one another in Myanmar EFL students’ writing’. Available at: Accessed: December 20, 2021.

Author Biography

Academically, Tanya holds two great passions in life: linguistics and teaching English as a Second Language. Educationally, she holds dual Master’s degrees in Applied Linguistics and TESOL from the University of Leicester, UK. She has been teaching ESL now for over 10 years and continues to seek out new knowledge and develop new and better ways of bringing effective English language knowledge into the lives of all her students while sharing her techniques and teaching ideas with her colleagues. She is currently part of the International House Bielsko-Biala team and finds her new experience rewarding.