For better or worse, modern grammars have moved on

4th December 2009 at 00:00

When my daughter took her O-levels in 1987, she did well enough in all but French for teachers to say she was Oxbridge material. She re-took French O-level in the autumn and again failed. That was the last O-level, so the following summer she took French at GCSE - and got an A.

At the time, I doubted the usefulness of the GCSE. I remember her saying, "Dad, it's so easy! You don't have to worry about grammar or declensions or gender - all you have to do is be able to read street signs and find your way about and learn a simple vocabulary."

I have since realised this is a much more sensible approach. While I struggle to think up a grammatically correct sentence in French, my less academically educated - and so less inhibited - compatriots get on like a house on fire with native French speakers, using fractured syntax and "Franglais" that is cheerfully accepted by all.

By the time I get my beautiful schoolboy French sentence out, the conversation has moved on.

John Harrison, Co-author of 'Wot, No School?', Rye, East Sussex.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now