Letter: What teachers do

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is absurd to suggest as Mrs Fuller does (letter, 14 August) that English teachers do not know how to teach sentence construction. They spend much of their working life doing just that. What the Department for Education and Employment presumably meant in the statement to the press (report, 12 August) was that teachers do not coach their pupils in the sort of grammatical hoop-jumping required by the pilot tests.

It is not difficult to teach grammatical rules in isolation. On the contrary, grammar exercises make an undemanding lesson for the teacher but, as research has shown, not always a useful one for the pupil. Knowledge gained in this way does not transfer into their own writing and reading.

Assessment should be based on language in use, not on a random selection of grammatical exercises, as proposed in the pilot tests.

ANNE BARNES

General Secretary

National Association for the Teaching of English

Sheffield

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