Professor slams failure to teach grammar

THE failure to teach grammar and syntax is "catastrophic" for students trying to learn modern European languages, Joe Farrell, a Strathclyde University professor of Italian, told MSPs on Tuesday during their inquiry into the purposes of education.

Scottish schools were ignoring the structure of language in a way no other major country would ever do. "It would be unthinkable in France," Professor Farrell said.

Picking up another language was not all "beer and skittles" and involved a level of education and dedication. "If you have the knowledge of the structure of one language, whether that language is English, Latin or whatever, then that is valuable in going forward," he said.

He was seriously concerned about basic literacy standards in school and was not convinced by rising exam grades, which were manipulated by examiners and not judged against an objective standard.

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