Do they really need to know what a predicate is? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 47 Old 12-08-2008, 11:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I had no idea what nouns and verbs were until I was in college. I'd never even heard of predicates and what ever else dd's language arts stuff is teaching but yet I still scored into the 100th percentile (yeah 100th as in top score, the lady who never passed a single English class in 13 years of school) nationally on my college entrance English exam thing I had to take to get into eng 101. I learned everything by reading tons of books and studying authors writing styles I liked when I started doing my own writing. I still don't know what an adverb or a predicate is but I can write "A" papers without much thought.

So, must know or not?

Seriously?
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#2 of 47 Old 12-08-2008, 11:44 PM
 
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#3 of 47 Old 12-08-2008, 11:44 PM
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Knowing the parts of speech and the grammatical structures of language is helpful when learning a foreign language. It's also helpful when students are learning formal academic writing. If they know what they're doing at the sentence level (a sentence has to have a subject and a predicate, it shouldn't "run on" and the nouns, verbs, and adverbs have to "match") they can focus on producing good paragraphs and essays. I think there are some people with a great natural command of language who can get by without breaking down the pieces. However, as a high school history teacher, I see that students who don't have the basics of grammar down cold have a hard time producing coherent essays.

So I would say, yes, children should learn the parts of speech and sentence structure.

ETA: Your method of reading a lot of good writing is a great way to learn how to write well - the best way, really - but very demanding for most students in the high school years.

And good luck on your finals!
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#4 of 47 Old 12-08-2008, 11:51 PM
 
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What about dangling participles? How important are those?

If you want to add some fun to your grammar learning (if that is even possible) try some Mad Libs. We have fun with those.
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#5 of 47 Old 12-08-2008, 11:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Satori View Post
.. but yet I still scored into the 100th percentile (yeah 100th as in top score, the lady who never passed a single English class in 13 years of school) nationally on my college entrance English exam thing I had to take to get into eng 101.
The top score on those exams is the 99th percentile. 100th percentile is a statistical impossibility.

Sorry, I can't stop myself from picking at those things.
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#6 of 47 Old 12-08-2008, 11:59 PM
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To be frank, I don't think those things are that important. Anyone who is interested in languages or writing, or who pursues a field involving composition, will likely come upon those things in their studies. I don't see any value to learning the parts of speech when you're ten years old, if you aren't interested. I'll bet anything that if I went into the other room and asked my son's 16yo (schooled) friend what a predicate is, he won't be able to tell me. Heck, my husband probably wouldn't be able to tell me. I'm sure they've both "learned" it at some point.

The parts of speech could probably be learned in an hour when the child is interested. That might not be until adulthood, but they'll learn it before then if they deem it necessary.

edited to add: Yeah, the kid is in tenth grade, is very smart, and "predicate" was a totally foreign word to him. My husband knew it was a grammatical term, but couldn't define it.
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#7 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by stik View Post
Knowing the parts of speech and the grammatical structures of language is helpful when learning a foreign language. It's also helpful when students are learning formal academic writing. If they know what they're doing at the sentence level (a sentence has to have a subject and a predicate, it shouldn't "run on" and the nouns, verbs, and adverbs have to "match") they can focus on producing good paragraphs and essays. I think there are some people with a great natural command of language who can get by without breaking down the pieces. However, as a high school history teacher, I see that students who don't have the basics of grammar down cold have a hard time producing coherent essays.

So I would say, yes, children should learn the parts of speech and sentence structure.

ETA: Your method of reading a lot of good writing is a great way to learn how to write well - the best way, really - but very demanding for most students in the high school years.

And good luck on your finals!
I was the quiet kid who hid in the corner and read books all day. Didn't tend to cause trouble unless you wanted me to work, by the time I got to high school they were happy if we showed up. fwiw, I did 4 years of HS in 18 months with 9 of those months just sitting and reading novels casue I didn't feel like doing school work and its not like they could fail me or kick me out (self paced program and I would turn in months worth of work at once when watch as my numbers dropped then once I got to the danger zone I did a bunch more, I did like a year of science in 2 days once, still remember the teachers face when I turned it in Anyway, it does come naturally to me, reading & writing at 3 and went from there. dd... it doesn't seem to come so naturally for her.

Seriously?
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#8 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 12:56 AM
 
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when I was in highschool I was struggling with geometry. My parents got me a tutor. I asked her why I even needed to learn this stuff...What use would it be to me!
I loved her answer, "It's another way for your brain to think. It's like exercise for your brain"
So maybe learning the parts of speech could be looked at the same way.

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#9 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 01:05 AM
 
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Is someone trying to make her learn what a predicate is?
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#10 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 01:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by chfriend View Post
Is someone trying to make her learn what a predicate is?
The assignment is to identify the subject and the predicate. I think its taught in grade 1 on K12 becasue it didn't teach her what it was before asking her to identify it (she's 2nd grade) and I can't teach her what I don't know. I mean I looked it up on google since I didn't know but it seems kinda pointless to me.

Seriously?
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#11 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 01:35 AM
 
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GET BACK TO YOUR FINALS SO YOU CAN PASS THIS SEMESTER!!!

Good luck...see you NEXT WEEK!

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#12 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 02:38 AM
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I'm learning Arabic right now, so that colors my opinions a bit... but I do think knowing the correct grammatical terminology is useful when you're discussing grammar... and I think some discussion of grammar is necessary to help most people became competent writers.

For example, if your daughter writes a story that includes the sentence "The little dogs." and asks you for help editing, how would you explain to her why that isn't a grammatically correct sentence in English? I'd use the word "predicate" to explain... you could use "verb" I suppose, since the predicate is the part of the sentence that includes a verb... but knowing some terminology would make it much easier to explain, IMO.

In my Arabic class, a lot of the students have no idea what a direct object or a preposition is, and it slows them down. There are certain nouns forms used after preporitions in formal Arabic, and others used for direct objects only. I mean, they can catch up, and most do, but it is necessary.

I dunno... it just seems to me that if a curriculum will be teaching grammar, it should include terminology.

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#13 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 03:14 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Satori View Post
The assignment is to identify the subject and the predicate. I think its taught in grade 1 on K12 becasue it didn't teach her what it was before asking her to identify it (she's 2nd grade) and I can't teach her what I don't know. I mean I looked it up on google since I didn't know but it seems kinda pointless to me.
Oh got it. That makes sense. We follow up on all kinds of pointless things here. And my kid loves terminology so she'd just love to throw that one in the bag.

I think terminology like noun and verb, subject and predicate can be really helpful when you're trying to talk about writing.

I remember my first college roommate, who was woefully unprepared for college, sweating over the difference between an adjective and and adverb. She asked me to explain...and I realized while I was explaining it that she didn't really grasp nouns, verbs and sentence structure. It was kicking her butt.

I grew up in a nerdy family that thinks this stuff is interesting. I remember being all happy when I learned what a gerund was in high school.
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#14 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 11:32 AM
 
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Go study, Satori......

I still do not know what a predicate is - and I have a Bachelors!

I do find my writing skills a little weak though.....perhaps grammar is useful if you want to be a writer, but for the rest of us....nah.
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#15 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 12:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Satori View Post
I still don't know what an adverb or a predicate is but I can write "A" papers without much thought.

So, must know or not?
Obviously, one can get through life without knowing. We were all taught in school, though many either never grasped it or didn't retain it.

A predicate is the verb and its little helpers. For example, in the sentence:

The dog barked.

The predicate is "barked."

And in the sentence:

The dog barked loudly at the cat as it ran across the lawn.

The predicate is "barked loudly at the cat as it ran across the lawn." Basically, you just start at the verb and keep going.

There are many wonderful reasons to learn grammar. I like grammer. However, I don't think kids need to learn it in early elementary school. There really isn't all that much to grammar. It is a very finite subject. I think that by going it over and over and over, we mostly teach children to tune it out! I think waiting until they are older and then really studying it makes more sense.

The reason I've heard for teaching this sort of thing in first and second graders is so that when children write you can more easily tell them what is wrong with their writing. For example. If they fail to write in complete sentences, you can better explain to them why it isn't a complete sentence. If they don't know what a subject or predicate is, then is can be difficult to explain that they have failed to include one in their writing. You can tell them that their subjects and verbs don't agree, and all that sort of thing.

Personally, my kids didn't do a great deal of writing at that age, and I didn't want to discourage their efforts by telling them what was wrong with what they did, but it is the reason given to me by a former teacher with a Master's in Curriculum Development, so I thought I would pass it along.

BTW, adverbs, have two jobs. The can describe verbs. For example:

The dog barked loudly.

"Loudly" is an adverb.

The can also describe adjectives.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#16 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 03:39 PM
 
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No, a young child does not need to know that. Some people (most?) may never need to know it but some want to anyway. I definitely wouldn't bore a child with parts of speech. Some kids will like it, but it will always be there later for those who aren't interested. Other have mentioned foreign language study, but it was by learning foreign languages that I understood English grammar better. I didn't need to understand it well before learning another language.

Chfriend, had your roommate been homeschooled?

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#17 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 03:54 PM
 
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Chfriend, had your roommate been homeschooled?
Great goodness, no. She graduated in the top 10% of her public high school.
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#18 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 03:58 PM
 
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no, i don't think it's terribly important to be honest...that's why most adults don't remember half of that stuff. my dd's curriculum is currently reviewing the "naming part" and "action part" of sentences. we do review it & she understands it, but it's not terribly important to me - i'm just reviewing it because it's there.

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#19 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 04:10 PM
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I'm reading a ton of essays by 10th graders this week, and I can tell which ones know the rules of grammar and the parts of speech. With due regard to those who don't see the point, or who think children can easily pick it up when it becomes important to them, it is MUCH easier to teach good writing to students who know their way around sentence structure. At this point in the semester, the students who didn't know these things coming in are really starting to resent me and my specific, informative feedback on their work. These kids have studied earnestly all their lives, and are academically ambitious, and this is really hurting them.
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#20 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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I think it would be interesting to know why some people don't get it after having reviewed it in school several times. Is it that they got completely turned off by it or felt it was too hard due to how it was presented, or do some people's minds work differently and don't really grasp grammar all that easily? Or some other reason?

I wonder if the students in the writing class who aren't getting it aren't really all that into writing, but are taking the class to fulfill a requirement.

eta: I don't think anyone is saying it's completely pointless, but why force it on a child who couldn't care less?
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#21 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 04:26 PM
 
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These kids have studied earnestly all their lives, and are academically ambitious, and this is really hurting them.
Then I guess I don't understand why they don't know what they should know for your class. What happened along the way when they were supposed to be learning this? It clearly wasn't a case of homeschooling parents not finding it of vital importance.
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#22 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 05:39 PM
 
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It's important when she takes the STAR test

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#23 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 06:43 PM
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My North African friends are generally surprised at how little American students know about grammar. In North Africa, grammar is taught very expensively in school. That may be because people there speak Arabic, and Arabic grammar is much more complicated than English grammar... but I agree with them that English grammar just isn't taught much anymore. When I was teaching, the prescribed curriculum covered nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives, as well as subject and predicate, but that was it.

I actually diagrammed sentences in school, and kind of liked it....

I do think it's possible for people to udnerstand how to write well without knowing the terminology, but when you run into a problem, terminology helps. It's like anything else... if my car is running well I don't need to know what's going on under the hood, but when I'm trying to fix a problem with my car, I'll have better luck understanding the mechanic or the Chilton's if I know what an engine is, and where the air filter is, and stuff like that.

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#24 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 06:53 PM
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Then I guess I don't understand why they don't know what they should know for your class. What happened along the way when they were supposed to be learning this? It clearly wasn't a case of homeschooling parents not finding it of vital importance.
I don't understand either. It's not a problem with homeschooling parents, because very few of my students have ever been home schooled. I suspect that there's a problem at a lower level with some teachers who don't believe grammar is important. I can't confirm this - there's just no way for me to ask.

My writing intensive class is not a requirement. The students who have signed up do so because they want to learn the material or want to look good on college applications.

I think Dar is right on - when everything is going well in your writing, you can get away with not knowing all the rules, but when you have a problem, it's easier to fix if you can name it.
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#25 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 06:54 PM
 
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My North African friends are generally surprised at how little American students know about grammar. In North Africa, grammar is taught very expensively in school. That may be because people there speak Arabic, and Arabic grammar is much more complicated than English grammar... but I agree with them that English grammar just isn't taught much anymore. When I was teaching, the prescribed curriculum covered nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives, as well as subject and predicate, but that was it.

I actually diagrammed sentences in school, and kind of liked it....

I do think it's possible for people to udnerstand how to write well without knowing the terminology, but when you run into a problem, terminology helps. It's like anything else... if my car is running well I don't need to know what's going on under the hood, but when I'm trying to fix a problem with my car, I'll have better luck understanding the mechanic or the Chilton's if I know what an engine is, and where the air filter is, and stuff like that.

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#26 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 07:06 PM
 
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well, i think writing something without grammatical errors is a realistic expectation for people. most people don't break sentences apart and label them on a regular basis though. when i was in college, my papers were well written after many drafts, lots of coffee and long nights, and serious work. my end goal was accompished though, which was a rockin' grade. however, IRL, i think understanding things beyond basic grammar and punctuation isn't incredibly relevant. it's sort of like reading... it's something i know how to do and i do it well - but i don't think about the "rules of reading" while i do it. it just seems like some things aren't terribly relevant after you've grasped the concept. also, i think if someone truly needs to know something about the ins & outs of sentence structure... it's fairly easy to figure out. google is just a click away, yk?

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#27 of 47 Old 12-09-2008, 08:06 PM
 
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OMG you mean some kids don't love grammar???
The PP who mentioned gerunds made my heart flutter.

Seriously though, working as a TA in grad school, I was shocked at the lack of writing skills displayed in the assignments turned in. It's really hard to focus on the ideas being presented when the sentence structure is so garbled. I don't think a second grader needs to know what a predicate is, but I think it's really useful before heading to college or a job that requires any sort of written communication. I've seen plenty of coworkers viewed as less intelligent or less competent because of their poorly composed professional e-mails. Some people have an intuitive grasp of writing (gerund!!!), but many can use a little help through labels. As others mentioned, this knowledge is really helpful for learning foreign languages too.

If you want to make predicates less boring, I would suggest SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK.
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#28 of 47 Old 12-10-2008, 01:13 AM
 
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I didn't want to discourage their efforts by telling them what was wrong with what they did
YES! I think it is fine to learn the parts of speech later, but 1st or 2nd grade is way too early. Think about when your child was learning to talk . . .did you constantly correct him or her? Were you worried that your child would never learn if you did NOT correct him/her? In all likelihood, no. You realized that the best way for your child was to talk and to listen-- freely.

Same with writing. The best way to learn to write is to write and read. Both take a certain amount of courage-- a leap of faith-- and WHY would anyone want to halt that process at such a tender age? Young writers are just developing their voices, so why such an emphasis on correcting them?

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#29 of 47 Old 12-10-2008, 01:22 AM
 
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I just learned what a predicate is, about 2 minutes ago, reading Linda on the Move's post. I've known about nouns and verbs, etc, and never had a problem identifying a "non sentence" because it didn't have a verb, and I didn't need to know the terem "predicate" to do it!

I have my BA and did very well in my English classes in high school and college, and didn't have any trouble with writing essays, poetry, or fiction in any of those classes. I've read a lot and I've developed a sense for what sounds right in a sentence and what doesn't.

My kids have learned the parts of speach for playing Mad Libs. The other day, DD2 asked me, since there are pronouns, are there also connouns? Of course I told her no, just amateur nouns.

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#30 of 47 Old 12-10-2008, 08:14 AM
 
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That's really cute Ruthla!
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