Building Blocks of Language


(posting on parts that make up a whole language and a whole language that is made up of parts; by one NEB)

From our experience in teaching senior high school and university students TOEFL(R) skills, it is found that they have difficulty identifying different parts of a given sentence or sentences, the skill of which is actually very important for not only answering questions in the relevant section of the test but also using them appropriately in the productive stages of speaking or writing whenever deemed required. These parts mentioned here, referred to as ‘building blocks of language’, are words (of 3 most important word classes: N(oun), V(erb), and Adj(ective)), (N, V, Adj) phrases, and (N, Adj, Adv) clauses. Next come what they are, how they are formed, how they are complete and reduced, what roles or positions they take up in a sentence (S(ubject), P(redicate), O(bject), C(omplement), or modifier), and how they function or relate in the sentence. Students prove to have even little knowledge of these similar building blocks of language in Bahasa Indonesia, which obviously does not aid their understanding and application of them in English. It can therefore be theorized that even the teaching of Bahasa Indonesia in the first place has not yet made students fully understand and master these building blocks of language in their own (national) language, the lack of knowledge of which transfers negatively to the English language they now learn. To make it worse, the teaching and learning of these building blocks of language in formal schools is despised, the argument being that it will not enable students to use the language apart from knowing just its rules. This opinion is of course misleading, if not completely wrong. These building blocks of language are important to know and master, for they are part of formal and academic English students will immerse themselves in using in their later education. To deprive them of learning this thoroughly is to admit that the teacher supposed to teach this is incompetent.

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