9.1629, Disc: UK National Literacy Strategy

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Tue Nov 17 10:47:32 UTC 1998

LINGUIST List:  Vol-9-1629. Tue Nov 17 1998. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 9.1629, Disc: UK National Literacy Strategy

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Date:  Thu, 12 Nov 1998 14:04:52 GMT
From:  "A.F. GUPTA" <engafg at ARTS-01.NOVELL.LEEDS.AC.UK>
Subject:  UK National Literacy Strategy

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Thu, 12 Nov 1998 14:04:52 GMT
From:  "A.F. GUPTA" <engafg at ARTS-01.NOVELL.LEEDS.AC.UK>
Subject:  UK National Literacy Strategy

The British government has launched a massive 'National Literacy
Strategy' which has wide reaching implications for primary school
teaching.  I have just read it's 'framework' (1998, Department for
Education and Employment).  There are a number of issues it raises,
some of which appear to be addressed by a recent book by Brian Cox et
al.  But I would like to draw LINGUIST list members to the model
(model???) of grammar it embodies.  It is aimed at 5-11 year olds.

The strategy demands a certain amount of metalinguistic knowledge
from 11 year olds, who are expected to (p3):

* 'understand the sound and spelling system and use this to read and
spell accurately'

* have an interest in words and their meanings and a growing

* have a suitable technical vocabulary through which to understand
and discuss their reading and writing.

There is a checklist (p69) of the 'main technical terms used', which
are listed in order of the year in which they first occur.  'Most of
these terms should also form part of pupils' developing vocabulary
for talking about language'.  These terms appear in three columns,
WORD, SENTENCE, and TEXT.  Here are the terms under WORD  that are
introduced in the reception year (year of 5th birthday):

Alphabet, Alphabetical order, Grapheme, Letter, Onset, Phoneme, Rime,
Sounds (first, middle, end/final), Word.

A tall order.....

There is also a glossary of terms intended for teachers.  It has
organisational problems, with terms used under definitions (e.g.
CASE) which are not themselves described.  Some of the definitions
appear to revert to early 19th century traditions of grammar, or are
simply wrong.  Examples include:

*  claiming, under APOSTROPHE, that 'originally the possessive form
was shown by a noun and the word _his_: _Andrew his bath_.  This
became contracted; the apostrophe marks the missing _hi_.

* identification of 2 past tenses (I ate, I have eaten), 3 present
tenses (I am eating, I eat, I do eat) and 2 future tenses (I will
eat, I will be eating). This under VERB.  Under PARTICIPLE we learn
that 'verbs using the present participle are said to be in the
continuous tense'.

*a double negative is 'the use of two negative forms which
effectively cancel each other out, as in _I never took nothing_.

*standard English 'contrasts with dialect, or archaic forms or those
pertaining to other forms of English, such as American/Australian

I could continue (sentence types, conjunctions, coordination are all
quite fascinating).

At the moment most students who start studying linguistics know
little grammar.  In 15 years we could start getting people who know
this kind of woolly terminology.  This is another example of
linguistics being passed over in an area where they could reasonably
be expected to have input.

Any comments?


 *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   *   *
Anthea Fraser GUPTA : http://www.leeds.ac.uk/english/$staff/afg
School of English
University of Leeds
 *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

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