You have done your students a service! And they will remember you.
There are grammar errors that I don't make because I hear my teacher's voice reminding me of one of her pet peeves in grammar. That voice is still coming through loud and clear after 57 years. Thank you Mrs. H.
I have so many, it's hard to winnow it down. I would say that two members of the "You MUST be Joking" Hall of Fame are the extraneous use of the word done ("He done left already") and the substitution of the word "up" for the word "away" ("Put your toys up before dinner").
On a phonetic note, I have too many times been asked for a "pin" when the person wanted a "pen". The short e sound is lovely: why are we ejecting it from the English language?
I was reminded of another common error today when I heard a child say, "Mom, when are you going to bring me to the pool?" So often bring and take are used incorrectly as noted here.
The English teacher in me immediately responded, "Your mother can take you to the pool and then she can bring you home." Of course, he thought since it was Saturday, school was not in session. His mother was very supportive and said that I could teach her son any day of the week.
I'm loving this chain of egregious grammatical error conversation. Does my heart good to know that our English language is near and dear to so many of us out in the trenches getting bloody.
So I had to offer yet another one to our growing list of grammar errors.... The media and some journalists have been using the term "woken up." The correct usage is "awakened." Maybe they flunked English when they were in high school!
How about the signs we see all over the U.S. "Drive Safe." Again, that grates on my adverbial sense. How about "Drive Safely."
My top ten "winners":
People that say them apples and dese other fruits make me pause
Irregardless of the fact they are speaking of healty foods, a good cause.
Between all of us, if there was a way to make it all more better
I’d like sorta jump on that bandwagon and follow it to the letter.
I have a friend whose former wife was a teacher. Every time he misspoke a word, she would correct him, even in public. Any questions about why she is now an “ex”??? I think we have an obligation to help our students use language properly, but agree that it should be left in the classroom and done in a constructive, not an embarrassing, way. Example is always a good way to teach, and so I try to remember to speak properly, but sometimes, with all the bad usage that bombards us daily, it is hard to stay on track, even for me. I think it would be a great accomplishment if we could at least get our students to be concious of their written communications, though emails have kinda blown that out of the water, too, lol.
On that note, rather than adding to our list of errors (that could be endless!) what are some ways you can guide students or friends to use language properly, or to correct mistakes, in a constructive way, beyond being a role model?
One of my friends is excellent at helping me learn from my mistakes because he is respectful and sincere when he comments on them. When I pronounce a name wrong he might say "I'd always thought her name was was pronounced this way: ________." (I like that he leaves room for debate, just in case he is the one who has been pronouncing it wrong!) Or if I use the wrong word in a phrase, he might help by reminding me of the right one rather than making fun of me for the error, such as: "Artesian means water; I think you may have meant to say artisan."
If you have a wise, effective, or fun way to help people enjoy learning from their language mistakes—or at least not blush over them!—I'd love to hear about it.
Forgive me, Christine. As a career teacher, I’m trained to answer a question “as asked” and to train my students to do the same. And sometimes, frankly, it's just nice to have a less serious discussion for the sheer fun of it.
But, since there certainly is great value in extending the question with a Part B and for what it’s worth…
1) Prevention and early detection are always first on my mind. As a junior/senior English teacher, I would get to know my class for the first few weeks and then make up a two or three page funny story which included their most common grammatical, spelling, punctuation, and word choice errors. They would then work in groups as "goof detectives" to find and correct the errors. It was fun to hear them interact as they came across their own or classmate's commonly misused phrases and words. Sometimes, it was the first time they even knew it was a mistake and a debate would ensue. (That happened a lot with alot.) I played the role of referee and arbitrator on those occasions. The group who discovered the most errors became the "goof police", responsible for alerting other class members when they misspoke during class -- taking the onus off me, and keeping the correction process on the light side. There were rules in place, of course, so it didn't become a free-for-all, but peer review and pressure are powerful tools that can be used in a variety of circumstances for the good if properly channeled. (Assertive Discipline, for example, works wonders in a classroom for many teachers and it relies heavily on peer pressure.)
2) After this activity, it was easy to have students do their own revisions on essay work. They were allowed to submit their work in draft format first. I would comment on content and advise them of the number of "goofs" I found, asking them to discover and correct them before submitting the final copy. By the second semester, there was no longer a need for the goof police and written drafts were pretty much "goof-free". Direct instruction may have been a quicker way to get results, but I think having them learn how to edit themselves, both verbally and in writing, had a more lasting impact. And it makes for a fun memory at reunions all these years later, too.
3) Correcting adults, I think, is a bit trickier, as you really need to know the person, and how they will respond to suggestions. In your example, your friend skirted the issue of the name pronunciation. Some people might have found that to be condescending or ineffective, whereas you appreciated it because you know him and his intentions. If I weren’t sure, I would just say I wasn’t sure and ask if you were. On the other hand, if I did know, I would probably say something like, “I had trouble with her name, too, but I asked and she pronounces it _______”. One thing I have never done and hopefully never will do, and that is correct an adult in public, no matter how diplomatically I approach it or how egregious, to me, the error.
So...tell me, please, how many goofs have I made?
Hi Karen—no goofs! I like the idea of the story that reflects students' mistakes as a whole. It seems a fun and memorable way of addressing it. And I agree with your point that timing/setting, good intentions, and care are important with adults. I think I like your phrasing even better than my friends'!
I am certainly in favor of modeling correct English in the classroom and requiring it for all written work. However, I am a storyteller, so the local colloquialisms add richness to my storytelling. Gullah dialect is also an important part of the South Carolina third grade history curriculum. "Yunuh mus come fer visit." http://www.knowitall.org/gullahnet/