# Grammar test for British eleven-year-olds

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#### Barb_D

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Am I just old, or is that a very easy test for an 11-year-old?

#### probus

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Am I just old, or is that a very easy test for an 11-year-old?

To me it seems appropriate for children of eight or nine years. I was an ESL teacher, not a school teacher, but I'm just thinking of my own children and grandchildren and what level they were at.

#### 5jj

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For me, one of the (many) weaknesses of the British educational system is that children have to take public examinations at the same age, regardless of the individual child's rate of development. It is almost unheard of for a child to re-take a year at school. Regardless of what children have or have not achieved, at the end of a year they must proceed to the next year.

In most of the country, they are no longer labelled successes or failures on the results of one examination at the age of 10/ll - most children in the state sector now attend comprehensive schools, but all take their GCSE examinations at the same age - 16. The results of these largely determine the study and career options open to them for the rest of their lives.

As a result, public examinations have to be designed so that even the least able children academically are capable of getting a reasonable score - it would be very embarrassing if 25% of the nation scored zero.

A further result is that some independent schools have cut out GCSEs altogether (these exams are are not obligatory). They considered it a waste of time for their pupils to waste time on, for example, a maths exam in which the first few questions might be:

1
.
(a) Work out 1,436 + 217
. (b) Calculate 26 × 19

(c) Work out 110 ÷ 4 exactly

2.

(a) Write 2 as a decimal
.............5

(b) Write 0.38 as a percentage.
(c) Write 36% as a fraction in its simplest terms.
(d) Write three hundred thousand in figures.

(e) 7
.....8 of the children in a school are right-handed. What fraction of the children in the school are left-handed?

Students in independent schools frequently proceed straight to the Advanced Levels, taken at 18 or 19 (the age level is more flexible here, though those taken at 18 are generally regarded as indicating a higher level of academic ability than those taken at a later age. Even these examinations, once the pride of the English educational system, are believed by many to have been dumbed down, and more and more independent schools are now preparing their students for the more challenging International Baccalaureate.

#### emsr2d2

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My very first thought on reading it was that I thought it was far too easy. However, I based that on my own ability at the age of 11 which was, if I do say so myself, advanced for my age. I was lucky enough to have two parents and a grandparent who were very interested in language and grammar. I could read and write by the time I started school aged 5 (believe it or not, that is now a rarity) and I was given regular spelling and grammar exercises at home by my dad. At the time, I didn't realise what a difference that would make. All through secondary school, I assumed everyone had had the same sort of upbringing and was surprised to meet people who said they knew nothing about grammar.

However, as an adult, I quickly realised that the level of spelling etc that I had reached by about the age of ten was still out of reach of a lot of the adults I was coming into contact with.

Several of my friends - all very intelligent - would have trouble with some of the questions in that test. Those who never studied grammar either privately or at school would find them the most difficult. My best friend decided to learn French when she was about 40. The biggest hurdle she had to cross in the first six months of classes was hearing the French teacher talk about "tenses", "adjectives" etc. My best friend (who has three degrees and is probably one of the most intelligent people I know) had no idea what the terminology meant. If the teacher had said "OK, let's keep it simple. Today, we're only going to look at the first person singular in the present tense", my friend would have been at a complete loss. So in order to learn French, she almost had to learn English again at the same time!

I'm pleased to see that finally spelling, grammar and punctuation have been reintroduced to schools but I agree with 5jj. The tests are designed for the lowest common denominator. High pass rates are far more important to schools and to the government than a high standard with a lower pass rate.

#### 5jj

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I have always been in two minds about the formal teaching of grammar.

If grammar is taught as a means to an end, increasing the learner's ability to produce articulate, coherent, comprehensible and meaningful language, then I am completely in favour. A person who produces such language as "Me and me mates has agreed to what you wants" is unlikely to obtain a senior position in the Civil Service. Teachers need to make it possible for such people to produce, in the appropriate situations, some words such as, "My colleagues and I have agreed to what you want / your request". In order to assist in this task, such words as subject, object, noun, verb, pronoun, agreement, etc can be useful aids. Identification of parts of speech in a sentence is one way of providing learners with learning aids.

However, too often these means become an end in themselves. The question of whether 'my' is a possessive adjective, possessive pronoun, possessive determiner or some other term, which may be of interest to academic grammarians, is of little value to non-native-speakers or to 99% of native speakers.I feel sorry for some of the learners who send into this forum such questions as "Is open in 'The door swung open' an adjective or an adverb?'. A vital mark in an examination may depend on what the teacher believes is the correct answer. I am sure that some members become understandably frustrated when one of us asks why they want to know, or says it really doesn't matter, or that there are arguments for both answers. The fact is that that such questions add little to our ability to use the language, in my opinion.

Also, I fear that over-emphasis on formal language could lead to a return to the bad old prescriptivist days. Those who decry falling standards and regret the acceptance of the splitting of infinitives or sentence-ending seem to be ignorant of the fact that many of the 'good old-fashioned rules' were completely arbitrary. A self-appointed clique of speakers of a minority dialect of English managed to convince people that theirs was the only correct way to use the language.

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#### Tdol

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Question 19 is sneaky.

#### 5jj

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Here's one example of the type of grammar I was exposed to at school that irks me.

a.Identify the parts of speech in this sentence.
b. Rewrite the sentence in correct English.

The scouts put up their tents very quickly.

In the 1950s up, very and quickly were all adverbs, as any fule kno. One wonders what sort of deranged mind decided that these three very differently functioning words belonged together in that class of words called 'adverbs' a class referred to by later writers as 'the dustbin class'.

The 'correct English' bit? We were supposed to replace 'put up' with 'erected'. I have no objection at all to teachers encouraging learners to extend their vocabulary. Indeed, I believe that the uninspired speech and writing of many today would have benefited from a touch of vocabulary enrichment at school. What I dislike is the suggestion (stated explicitly by many teachers then) that what we now think of as 'phrasal verbs' were substandard or incorrect. Only those who eschewed such substandard forms could be accepted into the elite cadre of those who spoke English correctly - and who were therefore fit to enter the higher ranks of society.

I am that rare bird, someone who is fascinated by grammar. I was interested even at school, but even I remember the apparent pointlessness of clause analysis. We spent hours at school and at home deciding, usually incorrectly, whether dreary lists of clauses were Subordinating Clauses of Cause, Purpose, Result, Condition, Concession or Constipation.

Because of the career I chose, and what turned out to be a fascinating hobby for me, I am grateful that I was introduced to the study of grammar at school, but I have never in my language teaching career, in co-authoring a grammar book, or in pontificating in this forum ever found clause analysis of any practical value.

#### Tdol

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Good point- what is up today in that sentence? I can think of a number of answers that people might give.

#### 5jj

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Good point- what is up today in that sentence?
I use 'particle' but if people want to call it an adverb or preposition that doesn't bother me at all, so long as they don't try to convince me that they are right and I am wrong. I've heard people talking about phrasal verbs use 'the little word'. that's fine by me.

#### Odessa Dawn

##### Key Member
Why did you delete the word from from the OP, please? That post has been printed out and I want to state a reason why from has to be left out.

Thank you.

#### 5jj

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Why did you delete the word from from the OP, please?
Where was the original from?

#### Odessa Dawn

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I thought you might all be interested to see a sample paper from the grammar, spelling, vocabulary test which will be taken by most British eleven-year-olds, starting from next Monday.
.

#### 5jj

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ems realised that the from was a mistake. The exams may be held from next Monday (on), but they start (on) Monday. It's the sort of thing we all do from time to time when two thoughts run together in our minds. Nobody would notice it in informal speech.

When ems noticed it in her writing, she probably thought it was not an ideal model for learners, and edited it.

#### emsr2d2

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ems realised that the from was a mistake. The exams may be held from next Monday (on), but they start (on) Monday. It's the sort of thing we all do from time to time when two thoughts run together in our minds. Nobody would notice it in informal speech.

When ems noticed it in her writing, she probably thought it was not an ideal model for learners, and edited it.

That's exactly what happened. Occasionally, I just go back and reread my own posts and sometimes I spot typos or slight errors. I was obviously in a bit of a rush when I wrote "starting from next Monday". It should have read either "starting next Monday" or "from next Monday". As 5jj said, it's the kind of slip that native speakers make all the time. If removing "from" changed the meaning, I wouldn't have removed it. I didn't expect someone to come along and say that they were printing out the posts.

#### 5jj

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I didn't expect someone to come along and say that they were printing out the posts.
Heh heh. Big Bruzzer is votching you,:evilbat::evilbat:

#### Odessa Dawn

##### Key Member
I didn't expect someone to come along and say that they were printing out the posts.
I thought you might all be interested to see a sample paper from the grammar, spelling, vocabulary test which will be taken by most British eleven-year-olds, starting next Monday.

I just printed out your insightful post because you used the adjective interested followed by the preposition to. For that reason, I wanted to see how it is used and to be saved with a subject, already discussed here, relates to that kind of usage. That is it.

Thank you.

#### 5jj

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Occasionally, I just go back and reread my own posts and sometimes I spot typos or slight errors.
That's one of the (many) reasons I like the 'like' option we have. When I log in, I notice that one or two kind people have 'liked' my last post. Curious to know who these perceptive people are, I click on the 'likes received' button and re-read my authoritative/witty/brilliant post. It's at this stage that I notice that the typo-demon has changed what I intended to write. I correct it, hoping that no-one has spotted it. Occasionally, some typo-spotting fiend such as OD notices it before I get there. :snipersm:

#### probus

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And when we correct such errors, we lose the likes. Nevertheless, correct we must.

#### emsr2d2

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And when we correct such errors, we lose the likes. Nevertheless, correct we must.

I only noticed that the "Likes" vanish after editing about a week ago. I'm not winning any prizes for observation on that one!

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