Making sense of some eleven plus topics can be likened, at times, to breaking into a foreign language. On first reading we can sometimes obtain a general idea of what is wanted – but the details, sometimes, have to be pored over. Sometimes we may need to read different questions in the same series before building a slightly more coherent picture. A little illustration may help.
These are two recipes written in Shona. I spent as many holidays as possible on my grandparent’s farm in what was called Rhodesia – now named Zimbabwe. The huge `bossman’ was an Ndebele – the only one on the farm. The rest were Chishona. There is a long history of conflict between the Ndebele and the Chishona – but that is for another day. The boys I played with on the farm spoke Shona. They learnt a bit of English from me – I learnt a lot more Shona from them.
Para chizi. Ita omereti isina chinhu. Kana yaibva, mwaya chipuna chikuru chechizi yekuparira pamusoro pe omereti usati wapetera mudishi.
Menya wokanga matomati. Ita isina chinu. Dira matomati pamusoro peomereti usati wapetera mudishi.
We can see key words that give some information.
`Chizi’ sounds like `cheese’ and `matomati’ like `tomato’.
Another word that is common to both recipes is `pamusora’. Now what do we do with toppings in an omelette? Of course we pour the ingredient `over’ or `on top of’.
A different word that may spring to our attention is `mudishi’. We have eggs and, being an omelette, they have to be mixed in something. By now you will have guessed `dishes’ and `mudishi’ are remarkably similar.
If the eleven plus going gets tough encourage your ten year old to ease you into a chair, offer you a refreshing cup of tea and then build you a nice omelette – made of course from cheese and tomatoes!