Teaching about connectives and logic

Why do pupils need to know about anaphora and reference?

The 1999 National Curriculum for English at KS 3& 4 says:


Language structure

  • Pupils should be taught the need for whole-text cohesion and use this knowledge in their writing. They should be taught the structure of whole texts, including cohesion, openings and conclusions in different types of writing.

The Key Stage 3 National Strategy Framework for teaching English: Years 7, 8 and 9 contains the following objectives:

Year 8: Sentence level

Paragraphing and cohesion

Pupils should be taught to develop different ways of linking paragraphs, using a range of strategies to improve cohesion and coherence, e.g. choice of connectives, reference back, linking phrases;

Year 9: Sentence level

Paragraphing and cohesion

Pupils should be taught to compare and use different ways of opening, developing and completing paragraphs;

What are pupils quite good at and what do they need to develop in this area at KS3?

The strengths and weaknesses of many KS3 writers’ use of connectives are exemplified in the following piece of argumentative writing:

I think that old people has a right as well as younger people. The ways some old people get treated is not right, old people get people being nasty to them. They tried to help but people throw back in their face and some people would even nick things from an old person.

My experience with old people is they need more sleep and rest and they can’t get that when other people make too much noise. They need love and care which some old people I know does not because they are old.

I think that old people should get treated with love, happiness Friendship and families should look after them because if was not for them they would not be where they are today. Families should spend more time with them. Old people should get treated the way other people do with respect and people should not laugh how slow they walk or how they look or what clothes and shoes they wear or what they believe in or even if they forget things they should not get laughed at they should be looked after.

A and, as well as, even B  = B is an addition to A
A but, or B  = B is in opposition to A
A because, if B  = B is the reason for A
A when B  = B gives the time of A
A the way B  = B is comparable to A

This text illustrates the general strengths and weaknesses of many KS3 writers in this area. All the words that are highlighted count as connectives in the broadest sense, i.e. as words that help to connect ideas within the text. In each case the highlighted word connects two ideas, A and B, and show the logic relation between them:

The connectives can also be classified by word class:

  • coordinating conjunctions: and, but, or, when
  • subordinating conjunctions: because, if (and possibly the way)

All these connectives are common in the speech of KS2 pupils, but notice the lack of connective adverbs such as also, too, then, however.


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