Tag Archives: curriculum. literacy


16 Dec

The literary class on facebook has taken off. Literally!

Participants had hardly consumed and digested the intellectually edifying lesson on Prefix, Suffix or compound words, that was so aptly taught by the effervescent Alcia Morgan-Bromfield, before they were face to face with another.

Marlene Gilling was at it again. This time around she needed clarity on the issue of whether it is okay to start a sentence with “Because” or “And”. Can’t say I was surprised because she did warn us it was coming. This is becoming a habit. A very good habit. Who the heck is complaining anyway? There is a popular saying that “where freeness is bliss, it is folly to resist”. We all dug in when Marlene took to facebook and wrote:

“Rosie has been avoiding me all day. Because I told her that what she did to Ray was wrong she has decided not to speak to me. And if she is upset about the truth I’m not apologizing. CeeBarbs plz get the team on board. I need help. The because and the and have me”

The discussion did not get too far before the expert came and set the record straight. Alcia Morgan-Bromfield responded:

“Sentences can be categorized in two main ways: by their function and by their structure. Marlene, your query is concerned with the structure so I will focus on that. Sentences by structure are classified as simple, compound, complex or compound-complex. To help determine the structure of a sentence, one must examine its formation.
One main clause ( simple sentence)
Two simple clauses joined by a coordinating or correlating conjunction ( compound sentence)
Two simple clauses joined by a subordinating conjunction (complex sentence)
Two or more clauses joined by both subordinating and coordinating conjunctions (compound-complex)

Both “because” and “and” fall in the class of conjunctions. Their main function is to join clauses or phrases. “Because” is a subordinating conjunction whereas “and” is a coordinating conjunction. Remember, subordinating conjunctions are used in complex sentences which comprise an independent or main clause and a subordinating or dependent clause. Eg:
“Because I told her that what she did to Ray was wrong (subordinating clause), she has decided not to speak to me (main clause).

If you divide the sentence into two clauses this is what you would get:
(1) Because I told her that what she did to Ray was wrong (subordinating or dependent clause)
(2) She has decided not to speak to me. (independent or main clause)
If the subordinating clause were left on its own, there would have been questions to answer; the thought would not have been complete; hence the reason it needs to be joined to a main clause.

THE POSITION OF THE DEPENDENT CLAUSE IS NOT IMPORTANT as long as it is followed or preceded by a main clause so the sentence could have been written as the foll:
She has decided not to speak to me, because I told her that what she did to Ray was wrong.
On the other hand, the conjunction “and” joins two simple sentences or two main clauses to form a compound sentence.
I am going to wash the dishes and Cee is going to wash the car.
I am going to wash the dishes. (main or independent clause)
Cee is going to wash the car. (main or independent clause)
Both ideas are complete; there are no questions left unanswered.
In creative writing and speech however, it is a convention of both format that the author’s or character’s stream of consciousness can be shown using any class of word in an unconventional way. Writers and speakers will get away with that as there is the understanding between writer/speaker and audience) that this is permissible and accepted.

AS FAR AS I KNOW, it is not permissible to use a coordinating or correlating conjunction (eg either/or) to function as a subordination conjunction in academic or formal writing as in the example cited in the post “And if she is upset about the truth I’m not apologizing”.
Again, I hope this helps. Please enlighten me if your readings/research show you otherwise.”

It does not get better than this. You agree, right? What I have come to admire and appreciate about the lecturer of these lessons, is her open approach to the subject of discussion. Despite her wealth of knowledge, she does not take it for granted that she is always right. This great show of humility captured in the last line of her response.
By the way, she mentioned in the second lesson that she would charge for the next, BUT…. let’s see how the remuneration package pans out.

Do you have a challenge with the use of ‘Because” and “And”? Share your experience. Even if you’ve never had a challenge with the use of the words, you are welcomed to share your thoughts.



13 Dec

The English Language is quite strange or even complex but when mastered is absolutely beautiful. It therefore comes as no surprise that lovers of it, and those who have gained mastery in the field, easily gets frustrated, annoyed or even angry when others are teaching them things that are contrary to what they know. This was the case with Marlene Gilling.

The Story
It was morning. Early. The goldens rays had not yet penetrated the clouds. I rose from my slumber, and through groggy eyes I checked my phone and saw a facebook notification that I was tagged in a post by the Pierrot Grenade Alcia Morgan-Bromfield. Now I was fully awake. When you get a notification like that you don’t hesitate to check it. I quickly unlocked my phone and click on the notification, and realized she made a response to a post made by Marlene Gilling.

The Cry for help!

In a desperate cry for help to clarify the prefix, suffix, or compound word debacle she was facing, Marlene reached out to the literary minds on her facebook page with this post:

“Cee Barbs and Strachan Help me out here. I was taught(although a very long time ago) that both the prefix and suffix are syllables. Am I correct? Next. Is a syllable a word? ish to child gives childish . Suffix . Pre to mature gives premature. Prefix. OK. But card to board gives cardboard and rain to coat or vice a versa gives raincoat. Tell me please. Aren’t the latter called compound words? Well I’m hearing now that a word added to a root word is also a prefix or suffix. Open my eyes to the light please”

And the lessons began!

After several responses to this problem were proffered by participants on Marlene’s page, the expert communication and linguistics specialist was called in. However, Marlene had to wait until the following day to hear from the Pierrot Grenade. I can only imagine how impatient was felt as she waited. (Yes I would know. I felt the same way when I waited for her to respond to my own desperate plea for help)

The Lesson that settled it all

The face behind the words

The following day Alcia Morgan-Bromfiled wrote:

“Good morning Cee Barbs, Marlene Gilling et al. Sorry I couldn’t help you last night. I had an early night. Now, if I may enter the discussion, and add from a linguistic perspective the following and hope it will bring (some) clarity to the discussion. Let me quickly explain in order to set the background that linguistics deals generally with syntax (grammar), semantics (meanings), morphology (word formation), phonology (pronunciation or sound pattern) lexicon (lexemes, words/vocabulary) and some linguists may add pragmatics (usage/political correctness) and orthography (spelling).

Words are the most basic units of syntax in linguistics. The process of morphology allows for the formation of words. Two of the most recognized manner to form words are through compounding and affixation. Compounding, as you have rightly stated, involves joining two (root) words (lexical items or morphemes) Now there are “free” morphemes and “bound” morphemes. Compound words such as “raincoat” comprise two free morphemes as each morpheme [rain] and [coat] can stand on its own. However a word such as [books] has one free morpheme [book] and one bound morpheme [s].

Affixation which include prefixes, affixes and the less popular infixes and circumfixes, involves a process of adding an affix to a word to form a complex stem. Affixes can be placed at the beginning or ending of a word – pre, in, un, sub (prefixes) or ion, ate, able, ness (suffixes). Infixes are placed in the middle of a word (they are usually of a derogatory nature eg [abso-blooming- lutely] and [in-phuking – credible] while a circumfix is placed around the word/stem eg [a-cook-ing].

Suffixes are also known as “derivational or inflectional morphemes”. A derivational morpheme changes the class or part of speech [er, ist, or] eg teach – verb to teach[er] – noun) whereas an inflectional morpheme retains the class or part of speech eg teach[es], [teach[ing] – both verbs although one shows simple present tense and the other show continuous tense. English is a highly inflectional language. *Jamaican Creole is not but that is for another lesson.

The error we seem to be making here is confusing PHONOLOGY with MORPHOLOGY. Remember phonology is an aspect of linguistics that deal with the pronunciation of words whereas morphology has to do with the formation of words. SYLLABICATION would fall under the former thus it involves breaking down the word into parts chiefly for pronunciation purposes. Example the word [justification] can be broken down into [jus/ti/fi/ca/tion]. The process of syllabication must be done in such a way that each break has a meaningful part as is done in the example. It would be incorrect to pronounce the word as [ju/st/if/ic/ati/on] which is sometimes done when we are unfamiliar with the language. You know like how we do when we are learning a foreign language and we pronounce all phonemes (the smallest units of a word) even when they are silent!!!!

I hope this has helped! I will charge you for the next lesson!!!!”

More than a mouthful isn’t it? Consume ye all of it. Then let it digest. You won’t regret it. I particularly enjoyed this post because on the day it was posted I had a similar encounter and had to send students to research the prefix of some words.

By the way, she won’t charge for the facebook lesson just like that. She can’t stop herself from responding to these desperate cries. But who knows, an official facebook literary class page that earns revenue may just be in the making. And why not? It would be money well spent.

In case you missed part 1, you can view it here (IF I WAS YOU…OR IF I WERE YOU…)  Coming next, the “And and Because”.
Stay tuned.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on this lesson


12 Jun

Two one’s two, two two’s four, two three’s six….


Here it is. Do you remember having one of these?

Do you recall saying (or should I say singing/chanting) this after lunch while you were in primary school? It was the highlight of the day. During that time, our little exercise book had them laid out in detail at the back. Without fail, you could enter almost any school compound after the lunch break and there would be at least two classes reciting timetables…I seldom hear this anymore.

Do you recall reciting poetry? The teacher would write it on the board or on a chart and you would have to learn it by heart. One of my favourite was “The Revolt of Chief Tacky” by Alma Norman. There were slots allotted for reciting the poetry in class. At that time the teacher would tell you to say it with lots of facial expression. He/she would help you interpret it so you understand it so you could find the right expression. Thus, learning poetry was fun…I seldom hear this anymore.

I still remember my timetables; I still remember some of the poems learnt then…So I ask the question, is rote learning bad?  With reform in education, so-called experts ruled that using rote is not learning and students need to learn higher order thinking skills. I wholehearted agree that children must be made to develop higher order thinking skills early but I also contend that there are somethings that are best learnt through rote. Some persons may disagree with me but that is okay.  I was recently  doing some calculations with a student and when I asked her seven times seven (7×7), she paused and it took her a while to give me the answer. Out of curiosity, I started asking her some others in the same way they were asked of me in primary school and she was stunted. She did not know.

The fact is, despite higher order thinking being the best way to go, rote learning has a place and serves a valuable function in our education system. We should have found a balance between the two; instead, we threw out the baby with the bath water. We aim to improve numeracy but how will we do that when our students do not know timetables? How are we going to improve literacy when our students do not read and are not having fun learning poetry, prose and short stories?

There are some things that as educators we must revisit and implement; see their worth and determine where they best serve their purposes.

Did you recite timetable regularly and do you still remember them? Do you recall poems learnt in primary school? Is there anything you learnt through rote and you still remember it? Share your thoughts here.