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Updated: November 8, 2010 20:34 IST

Grammar crammer

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Mathew Varghese talks about the flawed manner of learning languages in India

So you are doing your homework? I asked a six-year old. I peeped in to see what the child was writing: definitions of noun, verb and other parts of speech. And writing them again and again ad nauseam, not knowing what it was all about.

The drudgery is at its worst in learning English. Our obsession with English grammar is growing by the day. At a very early age and before they start using the language, children must learn parsing, parts of speech, transformation, analysis and synthesis of sentences.

Thanks to our insistence on correctness, our proofreading for mistakes, students shy away from putting pen to paper for fear of making mistakes. They hesitate to give free rein to their imagination and creative expression. We need to encourage writing, appreciate a good turn of phrase, an original idea. True, language is a rule-governed system.

Our personal experience is often neglected in our effort to learn the techniques of writing .The mechanical rote learning of rules and definitions make language learning a dreary experience.

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