Whenever we first speak to parents regarding supporting their child’s journey towards taking a Grammar School exam we’ll always ask something along the lines of, “Are they better at maths or English?”
And most times they’ll reply, “Maths.”
And there’s a reason for that.
Maths is the ‘easy’ one
For most children, whether English is their first, second, third or later language, that’s because maths has a clearly defined set of rules that stand apart from their mother tongue.
For example 5 x 5 = 25.
Not just on weekends or leap years.
And 11 – 3 = eight, without fail.
So in theory at least, children can just learn the rules and then follow them, parrot fashion as it were.
But not with English.
Our ‘wonderful’ English language is an absolute hotch potch of words taken from various languages, often from hundreds of years ago, many of which have been changed, sometimes massively, from their original structure.
Which is why we can end up with oddities such as
- Bargain. Why that second ‘a’, after all, ‘bargin’ sounds right, doesn’t it?
- Restaurant. Resturant works so why add that first ‘a’?
- Swimming. Who says we have to end it with a ‘g’, and why the second m?
And so on.
Which leads me onto the ONE BIG DIFFERENCE between learning Maths and English…
With maths at 11+ and GCSE level students can learn (relatively) simple rules, memorise them and they should pass, no trouble.
But for English you HAVE to learn both RULES and LOTS and LOTS of EXCEPTIONS and ODDITIES too.
There is NO WAY around this.
If your child doesn’t learn the rules, and the exceptions, then they’re going to have problems with English prose and essay writing, and in understanding what’s being asked of them in the Verbal Reasoning tests too.
Avoid at your peril
But there is a way to make it easier.
It’s ‘old-school’ but it works.
LEAN LOTS OF WORDS, their meanings, their synonyms and antonyms.
Every day, and I mean every day, take the do this with FIVE NEW WORDS and over time your English language skills will become awesome!
I guarantee it.
But most students wont’.
“Not enough time”, “too busy”, etc.
So if you only do half that, you’re still in with a chance.