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Teaching English Grammar

(19 Posts)
blibbleflop Tue 25-Sep-12 15:21:04

AIBU to ask for a return to teaching grammar in English lessons? This was something that irked me when I was doing my GCSE's back in '97 and is still going on now.

It came up when I was doing German at school when the teacher started talking about accusative and nominative cases and me not having the foggiest what they were in English to compare against the German words. Again the issue of verb conjugation came up; the teacher would ask you to conjugate a German verb in the form of: Third person plural present indicative, for example.

I ended up self teaching myself these aspects of English to help me in German and French. However, is it any wonder that we as a nation fail to learn foreign languages when we aren't taught our own in a way that allows you to learn another.

blibbleflop Tue 25-Sep-12 15:24:07

I meant to post this in AIBU but it can stay here just minus the first word :P

Numberlock Tue 25-Sep-12 15:28:00

No you aren't blibble. I'm a linguist and feel strongly about these things too - my son (studying German GCSE, year 10) hasn't got a clue what a personal pronoun etc is.

we as a nation fail to learn foreign languages

Don't start me off on that topic either!

BlackType Tue 25-Sep-12 15:28:24

My children are learning this in the Juniors. And rightly so. Son's homework last week was Latin verbs - present indicative, first conjugation, present, imperfect and future tenses. I heartily approve.

Tinuviel Tue 25-Sep-12 15:42:49

And if I hear that a verb is a doing word one more time, I will scream!!

cardibach Tue 25-Sep-12 19:21:01

Actually, ENglish doesn;t have the same tenses as other languages. It is not Latinate in structure or like German, so it wouldn;t help. If that sort of knowledge is needed to teach foreign languages but not English, isn;t it the job of the language teacher?
SOme knowledge about metalanguage is needed for analysis of literature and to make improving your own writing easier to talk about/plan, but it isn;t necessary or helpful to be trying to pretend English has all the tenses of , say, German. Even the British council agrees that English has only two tenses .

LeeCoakley Tue 25-Sep-12 19:24:54

What's wrong with 'doing word'? That's how I remember what a verb is. And an adjective is a describing word. Have I been wrong since 1966? blush

jkklpu Tue 25-Sep-12 19:29:56

Erm, there are lots of tense conjugations in English, which you'll see, cardibach, if you read a few lines further on. It's nonsense to say that English is unlike all other languages: unless we understand properly how our own language works, it does make it really hard to start grammar only when we learn our first foreign language.

I don't see why modern language teachers should have to start by explaining parts of speech or the difference between past continuous and preterite.

WofflingOn Tue 25-Sep-12 19:30:15

I teach in a state primary, this week we have covered compound and complex sentences, adjectival clauses and how to recognise words of Anglo-Saxon and French origin in order to improve our understanding of spelling rules.

balia Tue 25-Sep-12 20:35:00

Today I taught my year 7 class about 1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person and plurals of same. We had an interesting discussion about the lack of 2nd person plural in english and the dialect versions of it. I can't think of a school I know that doesn't cover the idea of personal pronouns. But excellent opportunity for more teacher-bashing, well done.

clam Tue 25-Sep-12 20:49:26

1st/2nd/3rd person comes up in Year 5, I think. Although we came across it in my Year 4 class last week and a fair few knew what I was talking about.

Dominodonkey Tue 25-Sep-12 22:02:37

I taught grammar today too. The same kind of things as balia and wofflingon.

Jkklpu - please enlighten me as to how knowing what the preterite tense is will help my students respond to comprehension questions or write essays on Shakespeare or Steinbeck? Genuine question as I have an English degree, a PGCE in English teaching and have been teaching very successfully for many years without knowing what the tense is.

KitKatGirl1 Tue 25-Sep-12 22:07:06

Erm, they do teach grammar in schools now. And punctuation. And spelling. They didn't in my day (late 70s -early 90s) but they do now.

WofflingOn Tue 25-Sep-12 22:09:47

I was teaching in the mid-eighties, and I can assure you, I was teaching grammar then as well.
<harrumph>

KitKatGirl1 Tue 25-Sep-12 22:15:05

Ok, pre-national curriculum, then. Some schools did and some schools didn't! Mine didn't really (only through foreign languages, as noted upthread).

Just annoys me when friends of my age say 'How come kids today can't do grammar/spellings as well as we can?' and I think, 'We only learnt it by osmosis because we were quite clever; quite a lot of our peers didn't learn any at all!'

We had grammar lessons in the first year of my English lit degree (1992) and there was a huge variance in the amount students did and didn't know.

KitKatGirl1 Tue 25-Sep-12 22:19:25

Though my personal bugbear with ks2 English teaching is the obsession with using adverbs all over the place; as if that were the only way to write an 'interesting' sentence, a la J K Rowling...

Hasten to add, am sure that was only in ds's school, though!

cardibach Wed 26-Sep-12 19:02:56

I know there are varieties of pasta nd present, and I'm not saying ENglish is different from all other languages - what I'm saying is that it is different from some and, in particular, from Latin. There is a school of thought that English doesn't have tenses in the same way as other languages, but it is a bit esoteric and I don't really understand the ins and outs of it. In any case, if information is needed for MFL but not English of course it should be taught in MFL.
I do teach grammar, by the way, I just teach English grammar, as needed by students of English, studying and writing English (up to A Level Language, actually) not information that a German teacher somewhere might like them to know.

mercibucket Wed 26-Sep-12 19:24:51

God you'd have a nightmare if you really thought we used tenses in a logical way, by which I mean 'present for things happening now kind of way)
I give you:
The train leaves at 3 (future meaning, regular occurrence, tense used?)
She'll often take the bus (ie she usually takes the bus, not a future meaning but using a 'future' tense)
Feel free to add your own examples
It would be helpful if people knew things like 'noun' 'pronoun' etc but not particularly for the teaching of foreign languages. Languages have different structures. And while I'm at it, english is not a latin based language (making frantic efforts to shoehorn rules about split prepositions into english grammar books a bit pointless)

mercibucket Wed 26-Sep-12 19:24:51

God you'd have a nightmare if you really thought we used tenses in a logical way, by which I mean 'present for things happening now kind of way)
I give you:
The train leaves at 3 (future meaning, regular occurrence, tense used?)
She'll often take the bus (ie she usually takes the bus, not a future meaning but using a 'future' tense)
Feel free to add your own examples
It would be helpful if people knew things like 'noun' 'pronoun' etc but not particularly for the teaching of foreign languages. Languages have different structures. And while I'm at it, english is not a latin based language (making frantic efforts to shoehorn rules about split prepositions into english grammar books a bit pointless)

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