55.  Differentiation of parts of speech.

In answers to other questions, it has been noted that the parts of speech –noun, adjective, verb, adverb, pronoun, prepositions, interjections, etc., are grammatical categories that were not created for the English language. Greek and Roman grammarians studied their own languages –Greek and Latin-- and categorized words according to specific features that applied exclusively to their languages. As the Roman Legions that marched, invaded and occupied vast territories, including the British Isles, carried Latin grammar away from Rome, their grammatical categories were extended and applied to the languages they encountered in the territories they reached. Thus, what Romans defined as "direct objects" or the "accusative case" may or may NOT apply to the English (?) language as it was used at the time (around 1100 A.D.), or to the English language we speak today. Such grammatical categories may or may NOT apply to other languages like Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Rumanian, etc.

In English, in particular, it is very difficult sometimes to establish the grammatical categories to which English words belong. For example, what part of speech (or grammatical category) does the word "hand" belong to?

"Hand" may be a noun: I use my right hand to write.

"Hand" may be a verb: Please, hand me that pen.

"Hand" may be an adjective: I like hand-made artifacts.

"Hand" could be an adverb: I keep my sweater handy in case it gets cold.

Because in English most words can be used as nouns or verbs, and in many cases as adjectives or parts of compound adjectives like "hand-made," it is very difficult to differentiate the parts of speech. How can we teach, then, parts of speech?

Greek and Roman grammarians, in their studies, paid great attention to the reality that Greek and Latin words named, as well as to the significant features of the word itself, that is, the root, prefixes, suffixes, etc. Thus, in teaching parts of speech we MUST emphasize equally the REALITY the word names AND the FEATURES of the word itself.

In teaching every part of speech students must first OBSERVE the reality we are talking about. For example: Adverbs—

The teacher must perform many actions, and each of these actions must be performed in many different ways.

ACTION HOW it is performed
Talk rapidly, slowly, loudly, etc.
Dance rhythmically, elegantly, exotically, fast, etc.
Eat hurriedly, calmly, appropriately, etc.
Blink normally, repeatedly, constantly, sporadically, etc.


The teacher AND the students must then be given opportunities to practice naming actions performed in many different ways. Students can also cut pictures out from newspapers, magazines, catalogs, etc., depicting actions. Comparing and contrasting the many ways of "eating," for example, as depicted in many different pictures from discarded magazines or newspapers, help students understand the concepts and the definition of the term " adverbs.

Similarly with the grammatical category or part of speech "transitive" or "transitive verb." Students must OBSERVE and perform many different kinds of actions where the action cannot be completed unless "something" or "someone" is involved in the performance of the action. For example: we must "tear" a piece of paper, or a rag, or "something." We must "tear something" or we cannot say we "tear." If we just go through the motions of "tearing" but we "tear" nothing, we are not really "tearing."

The same thing is true of the action "pinch." We must pinch "someone" or "something." Otherwise, we are only pretending to "pinch" but the action is not really taking place.




For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

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5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

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Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
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