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Grammar schools and school grammars Richard Hudson British Library, July 2014 or: Does English grammar have a future? 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Grammar schools and school grammars Richard Hudson British Library, July 2014 or: Does English grammar have a future? 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Grammar schools and school grammars Richard Hudson British Library, July 2014 or: Does English grammar have a future? 1

2 Main points Grammar is old, international and big It’s an important part of education – for first language literacy – for foreign languages – for general thinking It needs strong intellectual underpinnings – if these disappear, it dies – but it can revive 2

3 1.1 The birth of grammar Panini ?5c BC Babylon 2K BC Greece 5c BC Alexandria 3c BC Rome 1c BC Ireland 6c AD Baghdad 8c AD 3

4 Medieval education School – Latin! – Via grammar-translation method – So new schools were called ‘grammar schools’ in the USA, grammar schools are elementary schools University – Trivium – grammar, logic, rhetoric – Quadrivium – maths, music, geometry, astronomy 4

5 1542 Henry VIII and grammar Henry the VIII... to all schoolemaisters and teachers of grammer within his realm greetynge.... we will and commaunde... as you intende to auoyde our displeasure... to teache and learne your scholars this englysshe introduction... and none other... 5

6 A grammar of Latin – and English When an englysshe is gyuen to be made in latyn, loke out the pryncipal verbe. If there be mo verbes than one the fyrst is the principall verbe, except it be... If you want to translate an English sentence, first analyse its grammar. First find the ‘main verb’ – the non- subordinate finite verb. 6

7 Lily’s English grammar of Latin Lily’s grammar involved some of the best brains of the time – including Erasmus of Rotterdam It had the royal monopoly for 350 years So it was the grammar learned, at age 7, by – Shakespeare – Newton – Wordsworth 7

8 Enthusiasm for Lily, 1709 edition 8

9 But does English really have a future tense? 1761: The Rudiments of English grammar by Joseph Priestley 9

10 The death of grammar : grammar research died in the UK “[it is] impossible at the present juncture to teach English grammar in the schools for the simple reason that no-one knows exactly what it is” 1960+: end of optional grammar question in O-level English 1921: The teaching of English in England (The Newbolt Report) 10

11 Grammar research reborn 1959: Randolph Quirk founded the Survey of English Usage at UCL 1972: Quirk et al wrote the first blockbuster grammar of English 2002: Huddleston & Pullum wrote the fifth A UK triumph! 11

12 Meanwhile, at school... New English teachers had never learned grammar. – so they didn’t teach it. So foreign-language teachers couldn’t use grammatical terminology – so they opted for grammar-free methods So by 2009 school-leavers knew even less terminology than in

13 Did it matter? Yes, because sensible grammar helps writing and reading. Yes, because sensible grammar helps learning of foreign languages. Yes, because English and foreign languages overlap in grammar – and support each other. So what happened? 13

14 The language crisis Evening Standard 2011 Telegraph

15 Grammar teaching reborn The National Curriculum for English includes grammar – has done since 1990, but very little effect – but now, KS2 pupils are tested on Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation – and KS1 in 2016 Primary teachers accept the need for grammar – including the UK Literacy Association 15

16 The UKLA grammar: Jim Crinson with Year 3 16

17 For a healthy future, grammar should be... Research-based – tense (grammar) is separate from time (meaning) – present-tense modal WILL shows future time – past-tense would shows future-in-past e.g. He would later regret this decision Shared by English and foreign languages – French grammar is different – but German is similar 17

18 A healthy future needs... consistent terminology (e.g. tense vs time) – LAGB members are working on a glossary – allows grammar to grow across years test and reward for grammatical skill – compare arithmetic diagramming for complex structures – We will have been waiting two hours by 5 o’clock 18

19 Explaining German word order Morgen werde ich Grammatik erklären können. tomorrow will I grammar explain can Tomorrow I’ll be able to explain grammar. 19

20 Final messages For educators: use grammarians – schools – government – exam boards – publishers – the media – HE English and foreign languages For grammarians: be ready to help – know the curriculum – think about school grammar 20


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