DailyDirt: English Curiosities

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The English language is one of the hardest languages to learn. There are countless irregularities and significant differences between written and spoken English grammar that can trip up almost anyone. Here are just a few linguistic analyses of slightly older versions of English . If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.
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Filed Under: diagramming, english, grammar, language, linguistic anthropology, progressive passive, sentences

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  1. icon
    Leigh Beadon (profile), 13 Jun 2013 @ 9:43am

    Re: Waste of my time in 9th grade

    Sentence diagrams are potentially good but, like most things in education, they are way overused and/or used completely wrongly by the school.

    Doing a couple sentence diagrams throughout the course of learning about grammar would be fine -- but the focus should be on developing a keen intuitive sense for English grammar, and knowing the basic idea of how to do things more scientifically only when needed (which it rarely will be for most people). But, of course, you can't test intuition...

    It's very similar to what's wrong with math class. Students are given a solution upfront, then made to use it over and over and over again until they memorize it, without ever checking to see if they understand it. And nothing is more baffling to a student than being forced to prove or solve the obvious -- tools, like a sentence diagram or a piece of mathematical notation, should emerge from problems. That's how we created them. No human being ever diagrammed a sentence until someone was faced with some really complex language and had a reason to want to parse it out in detail, just like no human being did long division until they had some numbers they couldn't divide with their brain and a few fingers.

    If anything, the best way to teach sentence diagrams would be to first get students to spend a day examining sentences of increasing complexity, and encourage them to use pen & paper to help separate out the elements and draw it all out in a way that makes sense. Then, after they've developed a dozen of their own quick methods for sentence diagramming and are discovering the limitations of them, show them the standardized solution (but let them keep using their own if they like it better). Of course, such a process wouldn't fit into a standardized testing model at all.

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