And I still claim that not only that there are situations where it can be used even outside forum discussions, but also that it represents a pattern which newbee learners not only can, but also MUST learn as fast as possible. If you prefer to use another object than a book and another characteristic than the red color to teach them pattern "the [substantive] is [adjective]" then it is OK with me.
Cainntear wrote:The colourless book has no clear and intuitive meaning.
No, and my point was that if I can't even be allowed to say that the book is red, then I can just as well start saying that it is colourless with red spots. Or that it is alive, evil and eats small careless hogwarts students for lunch.
Exactly, the construction it teaches is essential. And what words are used to teach it is less important.
Truth be told, I find The book is red, or even colourless much more meaningful than the example "The manager is absent."
In some classes, it could lead to complicated explanations of what is a manager. Really, asking for the manager is not that common in some countries, not even if we use other words, like "your superior" etc.
The grammar construction is hyperimportant. And the words used in the example are extremely common. The students are not supposed to get stuck on the sentence.
zenmonkey wrote:I learned English about 45 years ago with sentence constructs that went much like this:
This is Pam.
Pam has a pan.
The pan is hot.
Tom has a book.
The book is red.
Tom’s book is red.
Is the book hot?
Is the pan red?
Is it Tom’s pan?
The sentence construct might seem boring and simplistic but it was effective for my age (7) and speed. Doing about a thousand of those a week and boom, English speaker in 3 months. And I still remember some of those specific examples (I’d pay good money to get copies of the books I used - Pam and Pat are seared into my mind).
My point is that these example sentences aren’t isolated they are used in an ensemble and hopefully the learned moves away from definite obj - copula ... quickly. Learning adjective placement, colors, etc... isn’t that bad in that the sentence has vocabulary and contextual information.
“[thebook] red” would be the Hebrew equivalent (no copula). “[this/that] book red [asserted state/something I know because I saw it]” is the Tibetan (no definite article without placement and copulas of assertion or observation). Both convey basic information about the language early on and tell you a bit about grammar and vocabulary.
Are they good sentences? I think I’m only able to judge in the context of a full lesson...
Exactly. Coursebooks starting like this can be awesome!
And some of the weird turns of this whole discussion were not only the insistence on "the book is red" being unnatural, but also the assumption such a sentence was taught in isolation. And then we were suddenly imaging weird people asked to imagine the meaning of "the book is red" in vacuum, without any hint and context.
Of course not! The student quoted in the first post had not been taught such a sentence in isolation either, I'd bet. They just remember it in isolation, when asked about their language learning, and used it as an example. It is very probable they were taught similar sets of examples.
Really, I am more and more convinced the problem are lazy teachers unable to get their students past the units 1 and 2 in five months (I've seen real life examples of this phenomenon), and therefore leaving their students stuck at these sentences and later burnt out.