An impressive English lesson
1 If I am the only parent who still corrects his child's English, then perhaps my son is right. To him, I am a tedious oddity: a father he isobliged to listen to and a
man absorbed in the rules of grammar, which my son seems allergic to.
2 I think I got serious about this only recently when I ran into one of my former students, fresh from an excursion to Europe. "How was it?" I asked, full
of earnest anticipation.
3 She nodded three or four times, searched the heavens for the right words, and then exclaimed, "It was, like, whoa!"
4 And that was it. The civilization of Greece and the glory of
Roman architecture were captured in a condensed non-statement. My student's "whoa!" was exceeded only by my head-shaking distress.
5 There are many different stories about the downturn in the proper use of English. Surely students should be able to distinguishbetween their/there/they're or the distinctive difference between complimentary and complementary. They unfairly bear the bulk of thecriticism for these knowledge deficits because there is a sense that they should know better.
6 Students are not dumb, but they are being misled everywhere they look and listen. For example, signs in grocery stores point them to the stationary, even though the actual stationery items — pads, albums and notebooks — are not nailed
down. Friends and loved ones often proclaim they've just ate when, in fact, they've just eaten. Therefore, it doesn't make any sense to criticize our students.
7 Blame for the scandal of this language deficit should be thrust upon our schools, which should be setting high standards of English language proficiency. Instead, they only teach a little grammar and even less advanced vocabulary. Moreover, the younger teachers themselves evidently have little knowledge of these vital structures of language because they also went without exposure to them.Schools fail
to adequately teach the essential framework of language, accurate grammar and proper vocabulary, while they should take the responsibility of pushing the young onto the path of competent communication.
8 Since grammar is boring to most of the young students, I think that it must be handled delicately, step by step. The chance came when one day I was driving with my son. As we set out on our trip, he noticed a bird in jerky flight and said, "It's flying so unsteady." I carefully asked, "My son, how is the bird flying?" "What's wrong? Did I say anything incorrectly?" He got lost. "Great! You said incorrectly instead of incorrect. We use adverbs to describe verbs. Therefore, it's flying so unsteadily but not
9 Curious about my correction, he asked me what an adverb was. Slowly, I said, "It's
a word that tells you something about a verb." It led to his asking me what a ver
b was. I explained, "Verbs are action words; for example, Dad drives the truck. Drive is the verb because it's the thing Dad is doing."