PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 September, 2004, 12:00am

Children respond to rules of grammar as they do other rules

Lynne Truss is not the only one passionate about grammatically correct sentences. (Education Post, August 28). It's a noble pursuit to improve the world's literacy standard and I am happy for her. I felt I had to respond in defence of teachers, though, when I read: 'The main thing I hope - and I am a bit sad it hasn't happened already - is that someone in education will say we ought to take a look at literacy and ought to make it a much higher priority.'

I am not familiar with the idea that grammar is boring. Perhaps Lynne should have visited more classrooms. Certainly the students in my classes have not thought so. A couple of months ago I reprimanded a seven-year-old for looking at his watch while I was reading to the class, and his response? 'But I was just looking to see what time we have grammar because I know that comes next!' I want parents to rest assured grammar and punctuation is as important as mathematics in your child's curriculum, and some teachers do teach it in a way that is meaningful.

As long as children know the purpose for learning grammar and are actively involved in the editing of sentences, learning comes almost naturally. It doesn't matter how technical the term for young children either, for when they see their sentences in front of them - and it is obvious that we need to rearrange the order of some of the words and perhaps add a few - children soon become aware that we need a 'language to talk about language' and this is when grammatical terminology is introduced.

One last thing. I hope so much Lynne Truss doesn't start that children's fiction book she was thinking about writing to teach children grammar. Children love a good story; they love to read a story or hear a story, like the rest of us. They can also distinguish between a good story written to entertain, and one that's written with a completely different purpose in mind. Now a children's story to teach grammar - that would be a boring read.


Primary school teacher and English co-ordinator

Pity the poor apostrophe

In response to your article on the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves, it brought me tremendous relief. I believe that what Lynne Truss writes on the first pages of her book concerning the misuse of apostrophes today is exactly what many have been wanting to say for years. It is disappointing that even those who are native English speakers have difficulty using homonyms such as 'their' and 'they're' correctly.

I fully agree that education is the key to correcting the many mistakes being used in punctuation and grammar. Although native English speakers are capable of speaking correctly, I find many still make obvious punctuation errors and cannot define basic grammatical forms.

At HKIS, students begin to learn definitions of nouns and verbs when they are 12 years old, at least six years after they begin writing. The cartoon videos shown are also hardly effective.

I share the same concern for the standard of written English as Truss. She has undoubtedly taken the first step towards improving the quality of English grammar and punctuation. Since I do not believe that local shops will miraculously stop selling 'VCD's' and start selling 'VCDs', I put the standard of written English into the hands of teachers.


Tai Tam

Sex games wrong for freshers

After reading the article titled 'Complaints over orientation camp sex games' (Education Post, August 28), I feel shocked. I am sure many students, myself included, would not dare to participate in orientation camps at a university.

Students in camps were naming their groups after a sex organ or action. They were forced to kiss strangers when playing games. It was really ridiculous and unnecessary. I seriously doubt these actions would help cultivate students' term spirit and familiarise them with campus life.

If the organisers want to give students a feel of the ugly side of society, I am sure there are many games that could be played instead. I would like to ask why the organisers chose such offensive games. The aim of orientation camps is to help freshers establish friendship and get advice about their studies.

But I am sure many participants experienced something horrible instead. As a Form Seven student, I am worried about this kind of orientation camp when I get into a university. I strongly urge that these sex games are banned.


Tsing Yi