Speakeasy wrote:Cavesa, while I have the deepest respect for your erudition and your vast knowledge in all matters touching upon language-learning, I find that your comments betray a retrograde attitude towards the most recent, enlightened views on the raising and education of children. It has been scientifically proven in numerous studies that, before 8 years of age, children are simply incapable of distinguishing between the formal and informal registers and their associated singular and the plural forms of verbs and pronouns; notions of politeness and self-restraint are equally beyond them at this stage in their development. Furthermore, any attempts at introducing such concepts at too early a stage cause children to endure unbearable psychological stress which results in near-to-irreparable harm that only professional counselling can even hope to address later in life. These are proven facts. Uninformed parents are free to disagree with the Ministry of Education. Nevertheless, the Ministry has a higher responsibility to ensuring the well-being of its charges and it will not be swayed by outdated arguments no matter how heartfelt these beliefs may held.Cavesa wrote: … Who in their right mind could have come up with that? Not introducing the "formal" addressing is about the social norms that the schools want to instill in the children …
I actually know a lot about this as I was part of such an experiment, which included lack of formal addressing at school. The "enlightened" school did a lot of damage not only on me but on many of my classmates too. A "retrograde" school saved me. Let's not forget, that research in humanities (especially stuff like this) needs to be taken with much bigger grain of salt than in science, and using the word "facts" is rather dubious in such a context. I have yet to hear about a single person, who has needed professional councelling due to being required to address people appropriately in primary school. I guess those studies' authors just wanted to look interesting, so they chose methods and sample that would support their theory, nothing rare.
And children unable to use a normal plural? Like what you describe, a teacher not using it on a group of children? That is nonsense. I can believe that children with certain neurological conditions may struggle with this but not the majority (any condition including significantly lowering the vocabulary of the child, or their intellect, or pathologically affecting their interactions with the rest of the world, may have this as one of the many symptoms, I can totally believe that). A four year old may not understand the concept of politeness, true. But an eight year old not understanding singular and plural probably needs medical attention and professional help, not the school making this the norm. This is very disturbing to hear about such a well reputed country like Canada.
Before anyone says "but you don't have kids": I have significantly lower siblings to have fresh impressions from, whose native language includes singlular and plural and formal and informal way to address people. And they had no problem with this in primary school, nor had any of their native classmates (the non native classmates had a lot of difficulties, most of them learnt everything in a short time). I think this tendency to expect children to be stupid and treating them like it is very unfortunate and going to lead to many self fulfilling prophecies.
And it still doesn't explain, why normal adult language learners are not being introduced to the basic norms of politeness early enough in a language course. A child can be excused, as being too impolite for a given age is the fault of the parents (and in such twisted cases like you describe the fault of the schools and Ministry). But an adult should strive to speak appropriately.
If Pimsleur doesn't teach that (in the languages, where this applies. For example Czech, German, and French use this in the same manner), it is a mistake.