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At what age would you expect a child to be asked to learn this off by heart?

(97 Posts)
Greythorne Sun 02-Dec-12 11:07:26

...and be asked to recite it in front of the class?

The Hare and the Tortoise

Rushing is useless; one has to leave on time. To such
Truth witness is given by the Tortoise and the Hare.
"Let’s make a bet," the former once said, "that you won’t touch
That line as soon as I." "As soon? Are you all there,
Neighbor?" said the rapid beast.
"You need a purge: four grains at least
Of hellebore, you’re now so far gone."
"All there or not, the bet’s still on."
So it was done; the wagers of the two
Were placed at the finish, in view.
It doesn’t matter what was down at stake,
Nor who was the judge that they got.
Our Hare had, at most, four steps or so to take.
I mean the kind he takes when, on the verge of being caught,
He outruns dogs sent to the calends for their pains,
Making them run all over the plains.
Having, I say, time to spare, sleep, browse around,
Listen to where the wind was bound,
He let the Tortoise leave the starting place
In stately steps, wide-spaced.
Straining, she commenced the race:
Going slow was how she made haste.
He, meanwhile, thought such a win derogatory,
Judged the bet to be devoid of glory,
Believed his honor was all based
On leaving late. He browsed, lolled like a king,
Amused himself with everything
But the bet. When at last he took a look,
Saw that she’d almost arrived at the end of the course,
He shot off like a bolt. But all of the leaps he took
Were in vain; the Tortoise was first perforce.
"Well, now!" she cried out to him. "Was I wrong?
What good is all your speed to you?
The winner is me! And how would you do
If you also carried a house along?"

Greythorne Sun 02-Dec-12 14:15:33

We are learning it in small chunks, two / three lines at time.

BabyGiraffes Sun 02-Dec-12 14:17:03

Grrr, phone. Looking at my 5 year old as I type... Hmm, probably not but give it a year and she would be able to do it. She's managed to learn several pages of song lyrics for her nativity play, so can learn things by heart. But I think the language of this piece is too difficult for a 5 year old to remember.

learnandsay Sun 02-Dec-12 14:20:43

mushroom, learning it one line at a time is fine, except that when you stand up in front of the class there is a small risk that it all just goes out the window. I think that's the reason why some people choose a memory aide.

rhetorician Sun 02-Dec-12 14:35:52

OP - I don't understand your point about French grammar and verb conjugation? Surely if you speak a native language (presumably your DD is bilinguial, or close to?) then why do you need to rote learn grammar rules? For writing purposes obviously you need agreement, but that's a fairly simple rule without exceptions, so can't see the need to rote learn? I'm just curious!!

rhetorician Sun 02-Dec-12 14:36:36

bilingual blush

LoopsInHoops Sun 02-Dec-12 14:38:51

I was wondering that too rhetorician. Spanish schools don't use as much rote learning, and their grammar is quite similar.

Greythorne Sun 02-Dec-12 14:46:27

Well, english verbs don't require any rote learning because the conjugation is very simple:

I read
You read
He reads
We read
They read

But in French:

je lis
tu lis
il lit
nous lisons
vous lisez
ils lisent

The first three sound the same so you can't hear the spelling change, so you have to learn rote! French children sit in classrooms reciting verb conjugations every day for years!

As for grammar, they have to learn the rules for direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns (for example) off by heart.

It is not comparable to english grammar at all.

LoopsInHoops Sun 02-Dec-12 14:48:46

No, but that's only a tiny part of teaching methodology. There's really no need for so much rote.

trinity0097 Sun 02-Dec-12 14:49:02

We expect our yr 3 children and upwards to learn poems by heart for poetry recitals in their class, the best from each goes on to compete in the whole school competition.

Greythorne Sun 02-Dec-12 14:51:33

FFS, I am not defending the French system!

I don't agree with rote learning, as I said way upthread:

i find it surprising on many levels:

the concept of rote learning

I am simply trying to let people know that - for right or wrong - you have to leanr French this way if you are in the French system!

When I say "they have to learn the rules for direct object pronouns by heart", that's not me propounding the rote-learning as a good thing. It is me reporting what happens in French schools!

LoopsInHoops Sun 02-Dec-12 14:54:45

No no, I don't think anyone said you were! It's an interesting thing though, how France have gone down a totally different route. Interesting for me anyway, I'm an MFL teacher.

jamaisjedors Sun 02-Dec-12 14:56:12


So moyenne section? Really? I didn't think they did any rote-learning like that in maternelle?

From CP (7) onwards DS did (and still does) a lot of poetry learning and both DS have v. good memories partly because of this.

Sounds tough for age 5 (but DS2, also 5, coming up for 6, grande section) learns most of his brother's long poems and songs off by heart too.

I think actually pre-reading they have a better memory too.

Greythorne Sun 02-Dec-12 14:56:53

Sorry, Loops

I thought you were saying "there's no need for so much rote" as if I were endorsing it. I'm not!

IndigoBelle Sun 02-Dec-12 14:57:46

Trinity - my school expects children to learn a poem by heart from Y1 for a competition - but the diff is it's a poem of their choice, and is therefore a suitable poem.

jamaisjedors Sun 02-Dec-12 14:58:17

Also, why are they giving homework in maternelle?

At our school hw starts in CP.

Are you sure they are not doing it at school?

Just asking because even DS1 (CE2) normally nearly knows his poems to learn by the time he gets home because they go over them a lot at school first and then over a couple of weeks.

LoopsInHoops Sun 02-Dec-12 14:59:03

No, not at all, just debating the merits of their system!

Greythorne Sun 02-Dec-12 15:04:37

She is not in maternelle, she is in CP:

PS: age 3
MS: age 4
GS: age 5
CP: age 6

She is 5 and will turn 6 in a few weeks.

Greythorne Sun 02-Dec-12 15:08:19

In the UK, she would be in Year 1.

rhetorician Sun 02-Dec-12 15:21:39

not saying that French grammar is the same as English at all - just that the learning of this kind of stuff is for writing purposes only. Curious as to what the practice is in countries where they speak inflected languages (Germany, for example).

LindyHemming Sun 02-Dec-12 15:27:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jamaisjedors Sun 02-Dec-12 17:53:51

Ok - I see, she's end of the year - I forget because DS2 is January-born so will soon be six, and is still in maternelle.

To be honest for CP I'm not at all surprised, that's when DS1 started learning full-on long poems every couple of weeks.

But as I said, they certainly practised them a lot in class beforehand because he pretty much knew them when they were set for h/w.

We found the transition from GS to CP a struggle for DS1 (September-born), suddenly tons of h/w, learning to read, rote-learning, lots of writing...

We had a lot of tears over homework that year.

If it's any consolation CE1 (same teacher) was MUCH easier, and he is finding CE2 a breeze too.

I think parents (and teachers) have big expectations of CP so it tends to be a heavy year. Sorry for your DD sad

DeWe Sun 02-Dec-12 18:58:10

If it was practiced at school regularly, I think the majority of children could do it in year 1.

When dd2 was in year 1 each class learnt one of the Revolting Rhymes by heart (the Roald Dahl ones) which are, I'd say similar to slightly longer. They did a lot of reciting it together in class but didn't bring it home at all.

At the beginning of year 4 they were all told to learn a poem (any poem) and recite it to their class. About half the children chose to do the poem they'd learnt in year 1-not just the top quick learners, but all abilities.

But I'd not really want them to have to learnt things of that length for homework. If the child wants to learn it, fine, but the thought of trying to get ds (in year 1) to learn it at home sends my hair grey at the thought. He could manage it, but would be very resistant!

Lesbeadiva Sun 02-Dec-12 19:05:23

My DS recited something about half that length in school at age 4. I think he could learn that now age five. But he has a good memory for this sort of thing...can't tie his bloody shoes or remember clean pants hmm

pillowcase Sun 02-Dec-12 19:12:21

we're in france too and mine all learned poetry by heart from CP, that lenght maybe, but never that difficulty. Even up to CM2 they wouldn't have that length and difficult, one or the other. So, depends on the school.

Greythorne Sun 02-Dec-12 19:13:34


It's not only the length, it's the complexity of Language. There's a lot of very old fashioned vocab in this one and the style is a world away from the humour of Dahl.

As far as I know, they do no practising at school. This is the third poem we have learnt this term and all the learning has been done at home.

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