Robert Harrell’s Grammar Quiz

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7 thoughts on “Robert Harrell’s Grammar Quiz”

  1. Robert as per Jim’s suggestion and with your permission, which I know I always have, I made this into a Primer article. I also made the Circling with Sindarin Language into a Primer.

    New people are encouraged to go read in the Primers (hard link above) for some (nothing short of) fantastic summarizing articles on the subject of CI instruction.

    And while you are browsing around on the hardlinks, go plant a flag on the Maps hard link!

  2. Thanks, Ben. Yes, you always have my permission.

    Just in case anyone cares or is curious, anything of mine that is on the blog is “licensed” to members of the blog for their use. Outside the blog, I license my materials with Creative Commons. That makes it available to people, I can set the parameters, and I do not give up copyright.

  3. I actually gave this to a bunch of the English teachers in my middle school, which is in the most affluent school district in my state, and all of them scored a 0/10 except for one who scored a 6/10. One teacher actually doubted veracity of the test and thought that the grammar terminology was made up. Almost every non-English teacher stared at it for about two minutes and then gave up without answering. One teacher did answer all of the questions, but of course scored a 0/10.

    I told all of the teachers afterwards that these questions are standard questions for a Latin 1 or Latin 2 student in our high school. All of the teachers, especially the English teachers, seemed shocked and appalled. If some of the most educated and experienced certified professional English teachers in the country can’t even begin to answer these sorts of questions about the English language, how in the world can we expect 14 and 15 year olds to be able to answer them about another language!?

    1. John, thank you for that report. I hope that the experience leads to dialogue.

      I truly believe that there is a place for grammar instruction, even extensive grammar instruction, but it is not in the beginning stages of language acquisition. Indeed, the primary societal purpose of learning grammar is simply to “sound educated” (and therefor be accepted as “smart” and authoritative).

      1. “Indeed, the primary societal purpose of learning grammar is simply to “sound educated” (and therefore be accepted as “smart” and authoritative).”

        This is so insightful. There’s something very brave that our students do when they take a risk with language and try to speak. Grammar Nazis dishonor their efforts and stifle their voices…in order to “sound educated.” TCI teachers just want kids to talk (when they’re ready) and really listen to conversations about crazy little Invisible people (Can anything sound stupid when the conversation is already that silly?)

        Throwing grammar in the trash and embracing creative expression threatens Grammar teacher’s egos, but builds up students.

        1. I admit that occasionally I fall into the trap. If I see a grammar mistake (not typographical error) in advertising copy or a persuasive essay, I will often think something like, “If they can’t get the grammar right, how good is their product / how sound is their reasoning?” Then I have to remind myself that rules of grammar are a construct that actually tells me little about the quality of the product or soundness of the reasoning. At times, though, these things can tell me something about the conscientiousness of the writer.

          One of my favorite grammar errors – and one that I knew said nothing about the quality of the product – was on a sign for a Chinese restaurant. The restaurant had closed for remodeling and then opened again. The banner read, “Re-Grand Opening”. I have always thought it was a wonderful mistake.

          1. Yes, and there’s something so beautiful in teachers like you who put their egos aside and letting yourself look a little ridiculous (sometimes facing genuine ridicule from peers, sometimes just looking silly during a story)…all to lower affective filter.

            Your kids are lucky to have a down-to-Earth teacher who choses to think less about himself and instead notice their “wonderful mistakes.”

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