“I beat”: first person indicative present tense.
Until quite recent times, Mr Squeers’ method of “parsing” - a tedious exercise that involves defining each word in a sentence according to its grammatical form and function – was still the preferred technique of teaching languages.
The term comes from the Latin pars meaning a “part (of speech).” Latin and Greek – often referred to as the classical languages – were the presumed model and ideal, and all other languages – including ones such as English, which has a very different structure – were taught in implied comparison to the ancient tongues of Achaea and Rome.
It didn’t work. The British remained resolutely monolingual.
But what about modern language-teaching methods? Do they work any better? And if not, what can we do about it?
It is the aim of this final chapter to examine these questions and provide you with the springboard to move on from speaking badly to speaking well.