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Adult Literacy - was/were

Discussion in 'English' started by lmdoyle, Feb 7, 2007.

  1. In these days of employers' unease (to put it lightly) about the levels of "literacy" of those seeking jobs at all levels, isn't there a chance that by not pointing out the grammatically correct way of expressing oneself, we are sending out mixed messages to students of all ages? I don't leap on mine from a great height when they say "we was" instead of "we were" but I do make sure they are all aware of the grammar involved.

    Thing is, grammar and punctuation have not evolved simply to annoy, they have evolved to help us make our thoughts and opinions as clear as they can possibly be with no room for misinterpretation.

    It is even more important as we become more global and are communicating with those from other countries who may well have learned our language using all the rules and regulations correctly, that we are able to be quite clear in what we are saying.

    Dialect and accent are integral to our culture, I admit, but there is no reason whatsoever why we can't ALL be taught the grammatically correct way of speaking as well as writing, so that we can choose how to communicate most effectively depending on the audience and purpose!!!
  2. the subjunctive mood?
    Don't even go there.
    If they cannot differentiate correctly between was and were in the indicative, you can forget being an elephant.
  3. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Correct. Certainly not written grammar and punctuation, anyway. The 'rules' were conjoured up sometime around 1700 (IIRC - it mat have been a little later) by 3 or 4 'experts' - in Latin.
    I am not aware of anyone but Victor Borge actually using punctuation when speaking.
  4. Hi
    What's the difference between a dialect and a language? Answer: If you've got an army and use it, the dialect of the commanders becomes the proper language! (joke)
    Actually, we all adjust our language according to situation and context and learners need to acquire this ability too. The concept of genres can be useful here. I would suggest using real texts in a formal context and practise taking them apart and re-assembling them. I've some background info on a site I put together at http://manxman.ch/moodle2/course/view.php?id=4
    As for me, I'm a 'brummie' who got laughed at at university and quickly learnt to use RP for professional use. I learnt German, got a job in Switzerland (where they speak a sort of 'Glaswegian' German) and have no problem 'code switching'. How is this done? Just by prolonged exposure and experience in context I'd say.
    I think the students just need to see that the sentences are put together differently according to time and place, and then practice their use in specific context (i.e. genre).
    Does that make sense?


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