Google Alerts [very handy tool – why didn’t I discover it years ago?] sent me this article today about the age-old problem of children’s education. Can educators ever win? They are criticised for not paying attention to grammar, then criticised for spending too much time on it.
Having narrowly missed becoming one of the ‘ITA generation’ [if you are blessed enough never to have encountered this, you may, or may not, want to follow this link http://www.theweeweb.co.uk/ladybird/ita_ladybird.html ] I have always counted myself lucky that we were taught spelling, punctuation and grammar from the earliest stages of school life.
[ITA spelling – it HURTS!!!!!]
Now, though, the world is changing. Children are going to need to be equipped to fit in with the international, technological, scientific industries of tomorrow. There is a strongly held theory that there is a critical age for learning languages; basically between birth and puberty. Children are learning language as soon as they are born [and many believe they are learning the rhythm, intonation and other factors even before]. By the time they are of school age, they have an incredible vocabulary and grasp of basic grammar and this needs to be nurtured carefully. But this is, therefore, also the best age to teach them other languages – so why not have early classes in Mandarin, Arabic and Spanish?
You could argue that we need to ensure our children have a really good understanding of their own language before ‘confusing’ them, and there is the ever-present problem of classroom time, money and available staff; but maybe we should re-think education? I don’t know, but would love your views.