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Primary school grammar work

When children discover words that can be grouped together, because they have certain similarities, then they need to be given a name for that group. The first set of names will be the parts of speech. Familiarity of many examples of any given group is essential before the name tag is given. Thus before children learn the word ‘noun’ they should have had plenty of time to find out the characteristics of the group and apply it to as many words they are familiar with. The next set of words emerges when they begin examining sentence patterns. Words must be given for parts of the sentence – ‘Subject’; ‘predicate’; ‘object’ … . Again, the need for examining many sentences for patterns and realising the function each word plays in the sentence must precede the labelling. Finally when studying changes in meaning, special names are needed to describe the kind of change that is being mentioned. Examples are ‘Tense’ while describing change in time; ‘Singular’ and ‘Plural’ while denoting the change in the number of the noun; … .


But all this must be done within the limits of vocabulary and sentence-patterns which are already thoroughly well-known to children. Strange words and new examples must not be used. Grammar must follow, and not come before, the ability to use the language forms and constructs that are being discussed.

Reference: The Teaching of English Abroad, By F. G. French, Oxford University Press, 1954.

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