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 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 so unsteady."
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 verb 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."
10 He became attracted to the idea of action words, so we listed a few more: fly, swim, dive, run. Then, out of his own curiosity, he asked me if other words had names for their use and functions. This led to a discussion of nouns, adjectives, and articles. Within thespan of a 10-minute drive, he had learned from scratch to the major parts of speech in a sentence. It was painless learning and great fun!
11 Perhaps, language should be looked upon as a road map and a valuable possession: often study the road map (check grammar) and tune up the car engine (adjust vocabulary). Learning grammar and a good vocabulary is just like driving with a road map in a well-conditioned car.
12 The road map provides the framework and guidance you need for your trip, but it won't tell you exactly what trees or flowers you will see, what kind of people you will encounter, or what types of feelings you will be experiencing on your journey. Here, the vocabulary makes the journey's true colors come alive! A good vocabulary enables you to enjoy whatever you see as you drive along. Equipped with grammar and a good vocabulary, you have flexibility and excellent control. While the road map guides your journey to yourdestination, an excellent vehicle helps you to fully enjoy all of the sights, sounds and experiences along the way.
13 Effective, precise, and beneficial communication depends upon grammar and a good vocabulary, the two essential assets for students, but they are not being taught in schools.
14 Just this morning, my son and I were eating breakfast when I attempted to add milk to my tea. "Dad," he said, "If I were you, I wouldn't do that.
15 "Oh my!" I said, swelling with pride toward my son, "That's a grammatically perfect sentence. You used were instead of was."
16 "I know, I know," he said with a long agreeable sigh. "It's
the subjunctive mood."
17 I was, like, whoa!