A couple of excellent posts from Iversen and Cavesa above; but I'd go further: the problem is completely the opposite. Most courses don't spend enough
time on really getting the basics right. My experience as both an EFL teacher and self-learner is that curricula are under pressure to move far too fast, I know of no other field where spending time on the basics is seen as a problem. Add to that the fact that this is a high school student who's probably studying a mere 2-3 hours a week, that we're talking about an FSI category 5 language and it seems entirely normal to me.
Interviewer: solve this differential equation
Student after 5 months of high school math(s): sorry, we've only done basic algebra so far.
Onlooker: can this be real?
It's just another example of how the difficulty of learning foreign languages is massively underestimated. Imagine listing "this is a pen" and "the pen is red" as if it were the most simple thing in the world.
Just to take examples from my own limited knowledge, the quoted phrases contain two articles for a start. German has articles that decline for gender, number and case, leaving the learner with literally dozens of scenarios. Spanish has a "mere" 4 forms and 6 different scenarios (if you include nouns that begin with a stressed "a" sound) for articles, but compensates for this relative "simplicity" by having major usage differences that must be learned (e.g. "no tengo coche" or "me gusta el café") and these are supposed to be the easier
languages (for English speakers). Does the TL even have articles? There's a demonstrative there, what about demonstratives (big differences in usage there between languages!)?. How many forms? Are there different forms for different genders, cases or number? Pronouns versus determiners? Close or distant referents? What about 3 grades of distance or more? Are there differences from L1 in pragmatic usage (e.g. many languages will use their equivalent for "this" even for distant things after they have been introduced into the discourse)? Are there differences due to animacy? Does the demonstrative need to be followed by a measure word? What one? What about "is" in "this is a pen"? Does the TL even have a copula? If so, how many? Famously "easy" Spanish has 2, which one do we need here? Do we have to mark this copula for tense, aspect, number, mood?
Etc times a thousand.
This article makes my blood boil, because the most upsetting thing for me as an EFL teacher in China for almost two years was watching bright, interested kids being rushed through a curriculum and ending up speaking fluent Chinglish with difficult to understand pronunciation. I often wonder how it could possibly be commercially viable to slow the **** down and get the basics mastered first*. I have now also watched several adults confidently rush to fill up with words and expressions and experience similar effects, before pronouncing that "being understood" is all that matters in Spanish and that Chinese is impossible to learn.
Hmmm, that wasn't what you thought when you started, was it? It couldn't possibly be that you need to go back and study the basics for a while, could it?
* I came to the conclusion that the only way parents would ever pay for a slower curriculum than competitors provide is if they could hear a Chinese equivalent of what their child sounds like in English. Then they'd pay for it alright. I wonder if that's why the music teaching industry isn't dominated by companies selling: "you're child can play Chopin, Bach, etc fluently in just 2 years!" and filled with parents complaining that their kid is still practicing scales and simple melodies after 6 months of piano classes and demanding to know when they will "learn Beethoven". Most parents would hear that their kids were playing great music badly. They can't hear that with an L2 they don't speak.