Minding our language


Sir, – With reference to your front-page article “ ‘Basics of language’ need more attention”, I would like, as a teacher of English over many years, to point out the following. The Junior and Leaving Cert exams, with their attendant pressures, influence teaching heavily, as we know. There has been no requirement in the English exams for students to show understanding of how language actually works and is put together through parsing and analysis. As a result, many students actively resist attempts by teachers of English to tackle sentence structure and word function, knowing these will never be an exam requirement. What understanding they have of the main parts of speech they gain through foreign language learning.

To give parsing and analysis exam status, even for a small percentage of marks, would encourage students to study the structure of language, and, one would hope, write it more correctly. In addition it would give teachers more support in teaching these skills. Yours, etc,


Corbawn Lane,


Dublin 18