The not-so-sweet words of Mr. Honey

It’s been a busy day, so here’s just one item, a quote from Authority in Language by Milroy & Milroy, p. 7:
“In the UK, one vehement critic of the supposed malign influence of linguistics on English language teaching is John Honey. He has name an array of linguistic scholars (including astonishingly Noam Chomsky, who has never been concerned with educational or social issues), as encouraging a neglect of standard English teaching in schools. This is an entirely false claim. It is true that there has been some opposition to the teaching of English grammar, but in our experience this has arisen mainly from the preference of lecturers for literature teaching. Far from discouraging ‘grammar’, university linguists have been closely involved in maintaining and encouraging its teaching. No one has ever opposed the teaching of standard English, and many of those named by Honey as ‘enemies’ of standard English have devoted much of their careers to teaching it training students to write clear and correct standard English. Experienced teachers will not take kindly to an attack that simply appears to them as ignorant, presumptuous and pointlessly offensive.”
This paragraph neatly sums up my experience on flteach, where simply pointing out that some of the shibboleth-like rules promulgated by teachers have no basis in the language gets condemnation. Moreover, a number of otherwise intelligent members accused me of wanting to teach non-standard English. What we have here is summed up in the title of the book from which I’ve drawn this quote (and many to come), ‘authority’.
On top of that, many list members heaped vituperation on non-standard varieties, just the sort of attitude guaranteed to alienate students who potentially would like to learn the standard.
In addition, many list members as well as many other teachers displayed a good deal of ignorance about grammar. Foreign language teachers spout the jargon of their particular language, “preterit”, “passe compose”, “gerundive”, etc., but have a very poor grasp of grammar generally and generally make a mess of the grammar even of the language they teach. Just read the posts.

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