Thursday, 23 August 2012

Onam Examination Question Analysis

It is for the first time we have a common question paper for the state for the terminal examinations. It is helpful for the teachers and learners to have a clear idea about the pattern of question paper that SCERT wanted to frame.

Now let us discuss the questions and their relevance

In Class 10 question paper the most confusing question is the last one. Analysis of the sentence pattern!

Many of us are aware that the pattern mentioned in the question paper is the functional labeling of words/phrases used in the sentence. But confusion still exists when many teachers and students mix up the phrase structure with the functional labeling.

To be more clear let us look at the two types of patterns/labeling

1. Phrase structure
 We know that a sentence consists of many Phrases (a single word also is called a phrase here ) namely Noun Phrase (NP) Verb Phrase (VP) Adjectival Phrase(AdjP) Adverbial Phrase (AdvP) Prepositional Phrase (PP) etc.

eg. Indians love Cricket (NP +VP) --> Indians + love Cricket
Here in the NP we have only a Noun (NP) ie Indians
In the VP we have again a VP ie 'love' and another NP ie Cricket 
This means the VP---> V+NP

2. Functional labeling
Let us analyse the same sentence to see what is the function of each of these Phrase in the sentence

The first NP Indians  functions as the Subject of the sentence.
Then we have another VP love which functions as the Verb . Again we have another NP cricket  which functions as the object  in the sentence.

Now we know that mixing up two types of pattern will end in chaos.

That means, when analysing  pattern of the sentence Indians love cricket we can eitherWe can say the phrase structure of the sentence is NP+VP . If you want to go to the next level of phrase structure you can also say
Sentence --> NP+VP
VP ---> V+NP

or We can say that the Phrases in the sentence Indians love cricket
functions as Subject +Verb + Object

Now let us analyse other sentences in the question paper.

1. They like Sachin and other players
    a. Phrase Structure = NP +VP (VP=V+NP+NP)
    b. Functional Labeling Subject + Verb + Object (+object)

2. Sachin is not playing in the current Srilankan series
     a. Phrase Structure = NP +VP+PP
     b. Functional Labeling = Subject + Verb +Adverbial

3. Indians give Sachin great respect
     a. Phrase Structure = NP +VP (VP=V+NP+NP)
     b. Functional Labeling Subject + Verb + indirect Object + Direct object

Some other questions that need discussion are given below

  1. Letter of apology
    Many teachers are confused about the form to be used in this letter. Formal/official or informal?
In my viewpoint, the form is less important here. Even then, an informal letter will do because it is a letter of apology. What has such a letter to do with officiality? Moreover, in all discourses we aim at testing the language proficiency of our learners.

  1. Preparing a paragraph
    This question is also an instance of dispute among teachers and learners. It is based on the extended reading passage. The SCERT guidelines state that upto 15 percentage of the questions can be expected from the extended reading portions. That may be why this question paper contains 12 marks from the Extended Reading portions.
About this question : the main dispute is whether to sequence the points in the proper order first and then to write in a paragraph. Here also my question is why to repeat the same process of writing the same stuff in sequencing first and then in writing another paragraph.....?

After all, the objective of this question is
  • to test whether the learner has comprehended the idea of the reading passage
  • to make him/her write a cohesive paragraph using proper linkers 

    Therefore simply writing the sequenced sentences into a paragraph will not be enough here. (Let the learners add , if they know and wish, more details). The proper use of linkers to connect the ideas is a must. The paragraph should be systematically organised.

     31.  a. Arent you? / dont you?
    Here too to be precise the answer is Arent you? look at the reply of 
    course I am.
    b. in / through

    which is more accurate express through or express in columns?


  1. Thanx Shibu Sir.
    It's informative. Hitherto I thought that the VP is the verb only. But from your explanation I understand that the VP (broadly speaking) is VERB + OBJECT, that can be subdivided as V+NP. But why can't we divide it as VP + NP (A single VERB itself can be called as a VP)

    The functional labelling is ok

  2. For the past few years we English teachers were asked not to teach grammar at school. I remember our R.P. saying not to use the words grammar, tense etc. in the class. I have taught in classes 5 to 12 and very well am aware of what is taught as far as grammar is concerned, especially in the U.P. and H.S. But look at the Std.10 question paper. From 2012 March S.S.L.C. onwards they have started asking about sentence patterns. It is true that it is there dealt with in the chapters but is that enough for a student who has got nothing much in the lower classes ? What actually has he acquired as far as grammar is concerned ? Let there be a heated discussion. I feel that this is injustice. What do you think ?

  3. Thanks for bringing in this vital point in our discussion. It is true that there was an argument that grammar should not be taught. But remember that it was when the new methodology was implemented for the first time in Kerala. Since the methodology was discussed for the first time at the Primary level there could be repeated reference to the acquisition paradigm in discussions. It was necessary then because the aim of the implementers was to acquaint people(teachers) with the idea that language is caught rather than taught. Naturally the authorities might have insisted on NOT TEACHING formal GRAMMAR at primary level.

    I think that even when the new methodology was later continued at the Secondary level, the same idea haunted some of the Resource Persons at the State as well as the Cluster-level. They might have propagated Not Teaching Grammar policy.

    I cannot help saying that many of the teachers of English in our state do not like(wish) to update their knowledge and skill in both content and methodology. They simply repeat or imitate what others are saying or doing.

    But most of us know that at the primary level the learners do not develop their mental faculties to the fullest and so they need an acquisition paradigm where they nonconciously acquire language when they are exposed to it. There are a lot of disputes and controversies regarding the practical aspect of this theory in our state and in our classroom conditions.

    However at the Secondary level we have a group of more mature children whose mental powers help them to engage in abstract mental activities. That is why they do more complicated mathematical problems, understand complex theories in science and other subjects. The cognitive psychology gives importance to the use of the mental abilities by the learners rather than repeating or imitating something

    In language learning too at this stage, they can refine their language if they KNOW more ABOUT the language. Here comes the importance of Teaching Grammar. Here too, remember that we (as per the Global trends) do not resort to the Prescriptive grammar or traditional teaching of grammar. We go a step ahead of Descriptive Grammar. We talk about Analytical Grammar. Here we analyse sentences and arrive at a conclusion about the patterns and usages in English language.

    How can we do without grammar ? Grammar is the bone that gives shape to the body of language.
    But at the same time please dont mistake the Subject+Verb+Object labelling (in the text book ) simply as going back to teaching the structures in olden times. What we do here is simply analysing sentences and describing the functions of the words or phrases used in the sentences. Instead of describing CATEGORIES (the parts of speech in traditional grammar) here we describe the FUNCTIONS. Thats all.