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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 11:56 am 
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http://www.theguardian.com/education/20 ... ?CMP=fb_gu

Happily there are still people fighting against the reduction of expressive language to a series of easy-to-grade formulae. Whether their voices are ever heard against the rising tide of measurement and 'tracking progress' remains to be seen, but I am not hopeful.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:44 am 
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Hi Amber, :D :D
It is so nice to read you!! :D :D

Imho, I am glad if the education ministry is trying to address the problem of lack of grammar knowledge in England. DS has been through the primary school system here and, concerning that aspect, I have to say it has been a disaster that I have still not yet addressed.
Does he know that there are different kinds of conditionals? No, he doesn’t. He roughly knows about the second conditional, as for the fourth and fifth, argh... When he will be over his teenagers’ years and be a bit more receptive, I hope to show him that he has still a lot to learn…. things that sadly he would have never learnt at school. :( :(


When I arrived many moons ago in the UK, completely ignorant of the lack of grammatical education in British schools, I had a class of adults at intermediate level. I had to teach them the French passé composé. Well, unfortunately or not, I am a ‘purist’, so here I went, full of joy :D , teaching first a lesson about the passé composé with verb ‘avoir’, then the following week, a lesson with passé composé with verb ‘être’… and at last, to teach them the agreement of the past participle with the preceding direct object, I introduced my learners to this poem by Jacques Prévert:
http://blogs.transparent.com/french/lea ... s-prevert/

In term of planning, I thought that I was alright, that my scheme of work was progressive and I did not anticipate any problems as I never had any when I taught these concepts to school children in another country before. However, to my biggest astonishment :shock: , I did meet some problems as one or two of these adults could not grasp the difference between a subject, a verb, a direct object …. :shock: :shock: I was really not expecting this! :? And I had learnt to say ‘a doing verb’, and other simplifications! :wink:

But I was a ‘green’, you see. :wink: I had arrived in the UK in August and was starting to teach the next month, having yet no cultural understanding of the situation whatsoever. :(

When I shared the cause of my astonishment with my head of department, he was not surprised at all and even said that he does not bother too much if his students are not able to grasp the subtleties of the French grammar, knowing these agreements is not really important for them. It is true that most of my student learnt French just for pleasure and to go to France, not to sit examinations.

I have left teaching many years ago to take care of my DS’s eleven + and his transition into secondary school. If I do go back to teaching one day (I have a medical background, so I have to explore also these career routes), I wonder what I will do when teaching the passé composé:
- If I teach in secondary schools, no problem, my expectations will be high because of the examinations my pupils will have to sit. :D
- But if it is in an adult centre, maybe I will have to recognise the learners who wish to master French grammar from the others who just learn this language for fun and their holidays in France. I honestly do not know and in fact, it will depend of the students in my class!

Therefore, I am rather glad that the actual government aims to raise the standards. :D When my American friend came to Leeds for a semester as part of a degree in English some 30 years ago, she was flabbergasted to realise that what American children learn in good secondary schools in her State in term of grammar was being taught in the UK at university level. :shock: :shock: There is definitely a problem, which needs to be addressed!

I am fully aware many people will oppose my views… I am going to ponder on this quote by Winston Churchill:
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.


PS: I haven’t looked at the issues in the test papers that Michael Rosen (whose poetry I appreciate very much) has raised. If such issues exist (and I believe him! :D ), that means that the test papers did not receive enough thoughts when they were written and this problem needs to be addressed too!

PS2: forgive me my misuse of Standard English! :( :( and any typo


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:17 am 
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JaneEyre as an aside, as a product of British schooling of the 1970s we were not really taught grammar - it wasn't trendy. My children know much more about it than I do. Mind you, my French grammar is better than theirs :)


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:47 am 
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I think it is important to teach good Grammar as it enables DC to write confidently. However I can't for the life of me see why we can't have both. The point the article was making was how restrictive the test was in its perception of good Grammar.

I agree with Scary mum as I too was a product of that generation. Any Grammar skills I do possess have come from teaching it at primary.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:58 am 
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Location: Herts
Oh this is a subject I know all about as my life is different to what it would have been if Grammar had remained on the state school syllabus. I would like to have met the idiots who decided to remove it and let them know the misery it caused me as a teenage student at University.

Grammar was removed from the state school syllabus in 1965.

This altered the course of my life as I had to leave my university course when we had to learn Anglo Saxon in the original in the second year and the fact that I had not learnt any grammar at primary or secondary school rendered me unable to keep up with my private school peers who had all done O level Latin.

I can still remember the sneer on the face of the English Professor when I asked for help. "You state school pupils, you will be asking us to teach you how to read and write next."

I found an elderly English teacher in the local town and hired him to teach me and got great marks in a resit of the exam but because I did not pass the Anglo Saxon exam that was six weeks after we started to learn it they would not let me stay on the course.

I had to launch an appeal to my county council to apply to move my grant to another University so I did a lot of research as to why this had happened to me. Why had a student from a state comprehensive who had applied for a English degree at a state university that did not have a O level Latin requirement ended up in this situation?

The answer was that Grammar was removed from the state school syllabus in 1965 so I was never going to pass that Anglo Saxon exam in six weeks because I had not been taught what I needed to know.

So now I am a Grammar expert and I am delighted that the government has placed SPAG in the Sats and even allocated separate marks for SPAG in History, Geography, RS , English and Science GCSEs. I made very sure that my dd got every single one of those SPAG marks!

The problem is going to take years to work its way through our society.

I recently attended a Latin taster day at the Cambridge Classics department with my dd and 15 other 16/17/18 year students (with a big crop of A stars between them) and a few parents.

The day was only open to students who had not had the opportunity to study Latin in their schools.

The tutor asked a series of grammar questions on the whiteboard and I was the only person in the room who was able to answer them and only because of what I had to do to get through that Anglo Saxon exam.

So bring on all that SPAG and more and whatever it takes to make sure state school students are not disadvantaged in any way when it comes to grammar. I don't want any student to ever feel the misery and humiliation I was made to feel as a result of a decision that I didn't even know about at the time.

We don't want any more generations of adults who don't understand how their own language works.

I don't care how prescriptive Rosen thinks it is, it needs to be done. DG


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:06 am 
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Quote:
my private school peers who had all done O level Latin.

At my (well known & well respected) private school we did not do Latin O level - at least it wasn't compulsory. I did 2 years of Caecilius & his dog - I remember the stories but not the Latin, and I remember father's horror that I did not do Latin in the traditional way that he did (interestingly he had to cram in Latin in the 6th form as otherwise he couldn't go to Cambridge).
I haven't read the Guardian article yet, so I shouldn't really be on this thread (I will, I promise), but it has always interested me that there is a generation out there (us!) who did no grammar at school, and thank you DAO, I now know why. I do think that anything too prescriptive is likely to stifle creativity, but I also think children should be taught how the language works!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:14 am 
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Daogroupie wrote:
Grammar was removed from the state school syllabus in 1965.

But I have an English Grammar exercise book from my middle school (mid 1970s) and it shows we covered nouns, pronouns, verbs, tenses, transitive, etc, etc. Mine was not the best state middle school either, rather one that even the local (not so good) secondary looked down on!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:32 am 
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Location: Herts
Well this was in the days when there was no national curriculum so schools could make their own decisions on this. The government determined it was not required any more in the middle of the sixties. Just like Rosen it was felt uncool to have such prescription but a Head could just ignore that and carry on with their lessons regardless. No such thing as Ofsted then!

I won my appeal after presenting my findings at a special meeting of the members of the council responsible for education at the time. I challenged them to find evidence such as a school textbook or workbook to prove that I had not just failed to listen at the crucial point!

I now point out to students on a regular basis that it is not a lack of intelligence if you don't know something that have never been taught and that other students are not "brighter" than you just because they have been taught it and you have not.

My dds are very clear on this point Knowing something that you have been taught that others have not simply makes you well educated but not "clever" But actually we don't use clever now because we always use CEM words whenever possible so we use Shrewd!

Because of course naturally "clever" students just wake up one morning and know what Shrewd means! DG


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:51 am 
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I think you were at the mercy of your teacher.

A friend who went to the same secondary as me but was taught by an 'old school teacher' is far more confident with her Grammar that I.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:02 am 
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Daogroupie wrote:
Well this was in the days when there was no national curriculum so schools could make their own decisions on this.

Thanks for clearing that up DG. I guess my school wasn't as bad as I thought!

And you are right Tolstoy. I know the teachers and HT were fantastic with a good mix of discipline on the one hand, and letting us get away with murder on the other! I do remember in my first year, age 8, I mispronounced the world lavatory as "lavaratory"... I had to stand up in front of the class and say it correctly ten times!! :oops: Simple, swift and it worked!


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