Falling grammar standards in the UK?

Do you think native English-speaking children need grammar lessons like the following?

An adjective phrase is a phrase whose Head word is an adjective. Like other phrases, the adjective phrase can be:

short (one adjective, in this case short), or
very very very long (three adverbs premodifying an adjective, long).

Here are some examples of adjective phrases in sentences. The phrases are marked in square brackets and the Head adjective is highlighted.

I thought it was an [extremely boring] speech. [S1B-039 #27]
But the image that they had in the marketplace was [pretty terrible]. [S2A-037 #102]
I’d like to answer that in a [slightly different] way. [S1A-001 #118]

These examples show a common pattern where a degree adverb comes before the Head adjective. The degree adverb modifies the meaning by telling us to what degree the adjective applies.

The material above is taken from a website, Englicious, created by UCL to provide teachers in England with help to teach English grammar in schools. According to an article in a UCL newsletter, the project is a response to the widespread concern that many people in the UK do not know enough grammar to be literate.

To visit Englicious, go to http://www.englicious.org/
To read the UCL newsletter article:http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/events/2014/07/29/english-grammar-day-2014/

The issues that immediately come to mind are:
– Exactly in what way are people in the UK poor in grammar?
– Exactly in what way is the alleged poor grammar on the part of British people undermining their ability to read?
– Is direct instruction of grammar concepts, as exemplified by the materials on Englicious, a sensible solution, even if the perceived problem is real?

(I did not distinguish between England, UK, and Britain in the above passage.)


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