What English grammar technical knowledge is needed for secondary

(18 Posts)
TeenAndTween Mon 25-Jan-16 14:54:42

My DD2 is in y6 and is struggling with the finer points of English grammar required from this year for SATs.

It has got me wondering whether to worry that she can't do it.

DD1 got through secondary fine without knowing about noun phrases and subordinating conjunctions. Yes the basics of noun, adjective, preposition etc, but not all the more complicated stuff.

Does anyone know whether KS3/GCSEs are also being beefed up to require this kind of stuff (either English or MFLs I guess)? If not, then I may just let it go and focus on more important stuff (like spelling).

(NB I don't mind what she gets for the SATs, but I do want her to be ready for Secondary).

TeenAndTween Mon 25-Jan-16 14:58:38

Oh, and by 'struggling' I mean it is totally beyond her at the moment, as even the basics are a stretch.

choccyp1g Mon 25-Jan-16 15:06:34

You only need English Grammar for English Grammar. Not knowing that stuff has no effect on how you access the other subjects. Maybe foreign languages in a few years time.

TeenAndTween Mon 25-Jan-16 15:13:02

Yes.
But is English Language GCSE syllabus being changed to include English Grammar?
Or is MFL teaching going to start assuming more grammar knowledge?

bojorojo Mon 25-Jan-16 16:58:00

AQA have information on their website about what marks are awarded for grammar in certain exams, and it is not just English. They are a total of 5% of the marks but are only awarded on certain papers. I would think other exam boards would be similar but I have not looked. I would have a look at what they are saying to gauge how important it is. All MFLs are easier with a decent working knowledge of grammar. However, I am sure an MFL teacher cold tell you more.

TeenAndTween Mon 25-Jan-16 18:49:17

I know you have to write with good grammar. That's a given.

But the current AQA English language (that DD1 took last year) does not require them to know or talk about e.g. adverbial phrases. I'm wondering whether anyone has heard anything about whether this is going to change.

Also whether MFL teachers are going to be raising their expectations of pre-knowledge to the (rather high in my opinion) level now required for KS2 SATs.

tiggytape Mon 25-Jan-16 19:03:24

The English GCSEs are being beefed up in the sense that there will be no coursework - it is all on the final exams so no chance to resubmit or improve on anything.
The texts for literature are traditional and arguably more difficult for some (or less interesting for some which makes it difficult).
There is not going to be a higher and a lower paper anymore - it will be the same exam for everybody.
Accurate punctuation and spelling will count for much more (upto 20% in the language paper I think)
There will be no speaking and listening component - it is all written.

However, there isn't the same emphasis on technical grammar as the Year 6's seem to be up against.

Year 10 are learning how to analyse poetry and to comment on the choice of words and the form of the writing. They have to be able to comprehend what they read and to present their own work in various formats but they are not expected to underline independent clauses in a text or anything like that.

My DS is in Year 10 and top, top set for English. If you asked him about subordinating conjunctions he may think you were referring to a road traffic rule and priority at crossroads or may just give a very blank look! His year group have never covered that work in KS2, KS3 or now in KS4. It doesn't form part of their GCSE studies.

tiggytape Mon 25-Jan-16 19:05:09

(and in Year 10, he is the first to take the new style English GCSE)

Scarydinosaurs Mon 25-Jan-16 19:13:40

Tiggy has it.

And if they were to include it, then that would be to the detriment of the rest of the course. What would they take out in order to allow teaching time to cover it?

Or are they going to spring an extra SPAG exam on us, SAT style, and say pass it or you don't get your GCSE grade...

Interestingly, the year six SAT SPAG paper is more challenging than the one teachers have to take to become teachers. It is insanely useless. There is no benefit in learning the parts of the sentence at that age- what on earth do they expect the children to do with that information?

TeenAndTween Mon 25-Jan-16 19:22:01

Thank you tiggy and scary

Sounds like I can not worry about the hard grammar. I do want her to know nouns v verbs etc but the rest of it seems overly complicated (for her at least). I think she is only a level 3 in old money, so my time helping her can now go on other stuff with a cleanish conscience.

(So glad DD1 did GCSE last year before the changes).

DorothyL Mon 25-Jan-16 19:29:18

Once again the argument on MN centres around the "usefulness" of the knowledge - does all knowledge have to be immediately useful?

tiggytape Mon 25-Jan-16 19:33:07

Dorothy - if harder elements of the Year 6 SATS stuff has an eventual use then it is very eventual indeed.
Many people who are professional writers, have English degrees or English based degrees have criticised the SATS changes on the basis that they've never needed to know much of it over the course of tertiary education or even an entire career.

DorothyL Mon 25-Jan-16 19:36:27

But by that token - at what point in your life do you "need" knowledge about an artist? Or trigonometry? Or osmosis?

malaguena Mon 25-Jan-16 20:02:37

I am an MFL teacher. I am glad the government is pushing for more grammar teaching, although I am not sure introducing such high stake exams for children is a positive thing. I am shocked everyday at the lack of basic grammar knowledge my students show. They often struggle with the idea of verb, let alone auxiliary verb or preposition. I don't assume them to know anything (not even to know left from right, as experience has shown). I do often think their general lack of understanding of how language works prevents them from succeeding in MFL, where they have to deal with gender and irregular verb conjugation. But then, a big percentage of students struggle with basic literacy, let alone MFL. The problem now is to see how primary schools will adapt and prepare pupils for the new SATS.
The point of this IMHO is not to know complex grammar terminologies, but to understand how words interact with each other and how language is constructed. I see it as a basic skill, and I believe that if grammar was better understood, I wouldn't see so many children confusing have/of and they're/there.

Scarydinosaurs Mon 25-Jan-16 21:21:50

'Useful' as in, what does it do for their appreciation of language? What does it do for their enjoyment of English?

Yes, grammar for MFL is useful. So teach it in MFL. Understanding how sentences are constructed is immensely useful at A level when the study of language formation is undertaken. Replication of complex and carefully constructed sentences is necessary at KS3 and GCSE.

Knowing what to call each part of the sentence? It kills children's enjoyment of English and literature. It sets them up to fail as the expectations are too high for the majority of children.

I actually enjoy teaching grammar, I try to make the lessons fun and interesting and relevant. The level of knowledge required on the SPAG test goes too far.

I've said it before on here: you don't need to know the names of all the muscles in your leg to be able to run.

TeenAndTween Mon 25-Jan-16 22:18:34

Actually, my point on this thread isn't really about usefulness at all.

It is about a child already struggling with y6, and my wondering what is most important for me to spend my time on helping her, and (for this thread) what the knock on effect of my choices might be.

If ignoring the finer points of English grammar in y6 is just storing up loads of trouble for y7-y11 then it would be a bad idea. However it doesn't look sensible to worry about English grammar terminology at the expense say of being able to add fractions (which she will need to know for secondary maths), or core spelling (essential for everything).

Thank you malaguena for your MFL point of view. I do want DD2 to have as much chance of success in MFL as possible (older sister did 2 MFL GCSEs) and I will endeavour to ensure she is confident with basic parts of speech.

I'm just trying to be pragmatic.

Thank you everyone for your input.

enderwoman Tue 26-Jan-16 17:07:01

My son in y5 knows more grammar then his siblings in y10 and y8. He's on bottom table but "above age expectations" set by the government to give you an idea of school. My older two know more than me and I was in primary school in the early 80s.

enderwoman Tue 26-Jan-16 17:12:28

I think that a lot of the grammar that they teach is common sense. For example , of course it's better to include detail that makes a sentence more interesting and not so necessary to know that it was an extended noun phrase that made the sentence better.
I think that teaching grammar is a positive thing as there are many adults who can't use simple devices like apostrophes, commas and speech marks correctly. (Gets flame proof coat out when someone points out my mistakes.)

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