Friday thought #76 English grammar rant…!

I love languages, they are endlessly interesting, and I am always comparing and questioning different aspects of language. In particular I love the English language. This probably has a lot to do with it being my first language, and also the fact that I spend a lot of my time teaching English to foreign students… ! But even so, I think it’s a fascinating language; so complex, so expressive, and much of it with seemingly no rules at all!

Teaching advanced English has been a very interesting experience for me as it has really made me stop and ponder questions that as a native speaker I would never even consider. It also makes you realise just how many mistakes we make as native speakers, mistakes which have, over the course of time, become acceptable. With the enormous rise in popularity of blogs, I find myself seeing more and more mistakes, and not just typos – we are all guilty of occasionally typing too quickly and not having time to proofread – but serious grammatical errors that are clearly not thought of as incorrect by the writer. Why is it now ok to say “there’s lots of people?” Spoken slang is one thing, but I can’t tolerate poorly written English. Another of my favourites is “I should of gone home earlier”. We all went to school and learnt how to read, write and speak. No wonder so many foreign speakers find English so difficult to learn.

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And don’t even get me started on apostrophes. Why do so many people think if a word ends in ’s’, it must need an apostrophe?

“Sofa’s for sale”

“Fresh drink’s available”

“Live sport’s shown here”

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The list is literally never-ending; outside bars, restaurants, even at universities. True story, I once saw this sign at a British university:

“Student’s Union”

Just for the one student then?

Apostrophes have very simple rules, we all learnt them at school, yet it seems most people have completely forgotten them by the time they reach adulthood.

I would never claim to always use flawless spoken or written grammar, far from it, but I think laziness, far too much time spent typing on phones, and the rise of slang is starting to destroy our language. And what a beautiful language it is, I hate the thought of it slipping away. If grammar is not your strong point, no problem, but just ask someone to check it before you publish it!

Then there are occasionally grammar points which present themselves and become the subject of debate, such as the following safety precaution commonly found on the back of headrests on aeroplanes. Is one right and one wrong, or are they both acceptable? And if they’re both ok, why?!

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It’s a wonderful language, but it could be made a whole lot easier if there was just one word for something, rather than 10, and if each word just meant one thing, not 10…!

Friday thought #58 A kindergarten with a view!

I teach English a couple of mornings a week in a kindergarten here in Innsbruck, which just happens to be at the top of quite a high building, meaning that I get the chance to see the sun come up over the mountains early in the morning. With this stunning Autumn/Winter we’ve been having so far, I can’t fail to appreciate that this has to be among the top 10 best views of any kindergarten in the world??!

Shame the 4 year olds probably don’t have quite the appreciation I do!

Wow
Wow…
Not bad
Not bad…

Friday thought #23 Never stop learning

The saying goes “Every day is a school day”, and I really think that’s true, or certainly should be true. Maybe my teaching background means that this rings much truer for me than for others, but I feel so strongly that no matter how old you get, you should never stop learning. It keeps your mind active, it helps you discover new things, and most importantly it keeps you interested in what goes on in the world around you. I’ve written before about doing something which fulfils you, and how many people I come across who would go so far as to say that they hate their job and they hate going to work.

I’m a primary school teacher, that’s my qualification and where the bulk of my working experience lies, so maybe I’m more keen to learn than others because I watch others learning every day, but I have come across more teachers than I can count who are 100% set in their ways, unable to learn new skills or techniques and worse than that, completely unwilling. And these aren’t just the ones that have been slogging away for 40 years in the same job, these are teachers from young to old, thinking they know best and without even the slightest inclination to change. This is despite the fact that everything is constantly evolving and improving, from teaching resources to methodology to technology. I really feel like the best teachers (and this could possibly be generalised to any profession…?) are the ones who are hungry to learn more, discover new techniques, find new ways of teaching the same old boring concept, and most importantly, want to try new things. If you stand still, teaching the same thing year in year out, with no variety and no excitement, you will drive yourself insane and more importantly, you will get bored. Boredom leads to grumpiness, a lack of enthusiasm and inevitably towards a permanent ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude and a lacklustre approach to life.

But I digress. My point here was that you should always be learning. Staying stagnant is boring and if you find going to work boring, pointless and mind-numbing, you’re in the wrong job. Like most primary school teachers, the thought of teaching secondary school children fills me with a slight dread, purely because I’m so used to the younger kids. But I think it’s good, even essential, sometimes to have a go at things that you might not find easy, so I recently enrolled in an advanced TEFL course, which when completed will more than likely mean I’ll be teaching English to all ages, from children to teenagers, to adults. Quite the leap from primary kids! Why? Not necessarily because I want to become an English teacher, I don’t need another teaching qualification. But perhaps to learn something new, take on a new challenge, add another string to my bow? I wasn’t sure how I’d get one with it, but I have to say I am absolutely loving it. I’ve taken on my first private student and although currently quite time consuming, I am thoroughly loving the challenge of having to plan lessons, search for resources and teach something new. It’s so far removed from what I’m used to, and bizarrely, that’s why I love it, because it’s new, and it’s tough.

Staying still is the easy option. It requires no thought, no change, no effort and no difficulty. People like to stay within their comfort zone, which I completely understand, but sometimes, just sometimes, it’s a good idea to step outside of that and do something which may have previously seemed terrifying. It’s amazing just how fulfilled and happy it can make you feel.

Well said Albert!
Well said Albert!