Tuesday, 29 March 2016

SPaG - French and German kids do it. Do they?

One of the claims being made by defenders of SPaG is 'French and German children do grammar on their own languages'. This goes uncontested.

So, let's unpack this: what I would like to know is highly specific: 
what kinds of grammar do French and German 7 year olds do? 
What kinds of grammar do French and German 11 year olds do? 
NOT what kinds of grammar do French and German 12 year olds, 15 year olds 18 year olds do?

The core of my question here is whether either France or Germany does 'grammar' beyond naming nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, something on reported and direct speech and something on tenses of verbs. (That was what we 'did' in the 1950s in primary schools.) 

Do French and German schools do more than this, the same as this, less than this? I have seen some French exercise books for primary children and it was full of 'conjugations' of verbs. Our equivalent would be 'bring, brought, brought' for present, simple past, and past participle.)

(Examples of 'fronted adverbials', 'embedded relative clauses' and 'subordinate conjunctions' will be given special recognition.)

Further, I have reason sometimes to read stuff written by French people with no education beyond 16. I'm interested to see that according to French 'rules' on 'agreements' quite often there are 'errors'. This suggests to me that even though the rules on agreements are repeated hundreds of times in many different ways, some people never quite 'get' it, particularly if they're silent as in masculine plural agreements. Perhaps some people have thoughts on that too. It tells me that you can drum and drill over and over again but you never get everybody all the time. This may not mean that you do nothing, but it may indicate that the drumming and drilling may at be fault. Or it may indicate that that's the way written language use is. It's too complicated for everyone to 'get' it all the time.

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