Sunday, November 8, 2015

How to Excel in English at PSLE and Beyond - Rule 2, Example 1

This How to Excel in English at PSLE and Beyond series will, I hope, provide an antidote to students against the pernicious effect of the outrageous errors of the Speak Good English Movement in Singapore.

RULE 2 - If an educator (whether he's a teacher or a writer of a grammar book or a member of Singapore's Speak Good English Movement) is unable to get the basics of grammar right, you know he's not fit to teach you grammar.

You will remember that in Rule 1, you are told to stay away from a grammar book written under the auspices of the Speak Good English Movement. I have warned you that you can neither depend on the book nor on the website of the Speak Good English Movement for any pointer on English grammar and usage.

The Movement is notorious for getting just about every aspect of the English language wrong, even if it's a simple point of grammar and they have a 50% chance of getting it right. I have shown this elsewhere in my previous blog (please go to the link below).

In this post, the example I will give is a common mistake - the confusion over when to use 'who' and 'whom'. It is forgivable if a student is confused over these two simple words but English teachers and certainly the Speak Good English Movement have no excuse to get it wrong especially when we are dealing with a situation where a sentence is given to them for their consideration and they have a long enough time to consider it before publishing it in a book that has undergone as many as 10 editions; this disgraceful book is a national bestseller and school children are all encouraged to buy it.

Here is an excerpt from the book I've warned you in Rule 1 about:

This is the shocking answer given in the Movement's grammar book. Whenever you see such a grave error in a language book and over such an elementary point of grammar too, you should forthwith dismiss the book.  I'm not demanding perfection. I would readily overlook such a mistake in an unprepared conversation or an impromptu speech but this is a book on grammar and usage and the person who answered this question (touted to be a 'language specialist' from the Ministry of Education) would have had ample time to think over the question carefully. 

But this is not the only time the Speak Good English Movement blunders on whether to use 'who' or 'whom'. They seem strangely plagued by the who/whom problem and many other language problems which you will see if you follow this series in my blog.

Here is a screen capture from the Speak Good English Movement's webpage of an excerpt of an official speech made by its Chairman, Goh Eck Kheng, at a Press Conference. This is quite obviously a prepared official speech. There are other errors in the speech but I'll single out only the 'who(m)' problem for the purpose of this article.

You will see above that I have underlined 'whom' in red where it is incorrectly used. I would not have bothered to bring this up if not for the fact that their grammar book has the same mistake. This proves my point that this simple 'who / whom' problem is one of the MANY problems in grammar that the Speak Good English finds insurmountably difficult.

It's not difficult to spot this error. You just have to apply your mind to the passage as you read it.  My advice to students and parents is simply to stay away from any book on English or any English teacher who can't get 'who' and 'whom' right. The Speak Good English Movement is notorious for their bad English. Their grammar book contains many other examples of similar errors which I have pointed out elsewhere in this blog. Consistent with their confusion over 'who' and 'whom' is the Movement's apparent inability to sort out what is called the grammatical case, ie when to use the correct pronoun eg 'he' or 'him', 'they' or 'them' and so on. There are quite a few examples of this problem in their book and I dealt with one such instance in my blog in this post.

To summarise, Rule 2 is to avoid those who can't even get their basic grammar right. I have shown you the example of this inexplicable confusion the Movement seems to have over when to use 'who' and 'whom'. Together with this problem is their confusion about when to use 'they' and 'them' which I won't enlarge on here. Click the above link if you are interested.

But I'm not done with Rule 2 yet. In my next post, I will show how bad the Movement really is. I promise you that you will hardly be able to believe what you will next see with your own eyes. Do you say, 'Alan and George work / works as a team'? Surely this is something even our kids at kindergarten are unlikely to get wrong. Can you guess what the grammar book of the Speak Good English Movement says the answer is? Be sure to read my next post and that will be:

How to Excel in English at PSLE and Beyond - Rule 2, Example 2

If you want a summary of all the articles I've written in this blog about the ridiculous language errors of the Speak Good English Movement, visit my one-page blog post that has the links to all these articles neatly categorised.

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