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Correcting spoken English- how far should we go?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by tafkam, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    I would say that both of those corrections are reasonable.
    While it may be seen as a matter of pretentious middle class by the upper classes in some places, in common society it is deemed far politer not to say "what?" in response to a mishead comment. Mind you, I would never say either, preferring the rather vague "sorry?".
    As for can/may, I would make this an explicit teaching point - there is a reason parents of generations have picked up on it: it's because the words mean different things.
    Can I go to the toilet? = Do I have the ability to?
    May I go to the toilet? = Will you permit me to?
    The interesting extension (that most parents/teachers miss) is how correctly to ask if someone else is willing to do something for you.
    e.g., Can you cut this card for me?
    I would prefer "Would you...?", but some may prefer "Will you..."
  2. lardylegs

    lardylegs Occasional commenter

    You lot are lucky. In my school, the kids ask, "Can I toilet?" Snappier, I suppose.
  3. Mine fall inbetween, I am asked "Can I go toilet?" and yes I do correct them, and could/should of's, double negatives ( I ain't got no pencil!!) and any other glaring grammatical errors. I have absolutely nothing against regional accents and vocabulary ( I'm from Yorkshire and we have enough of our own!) but I do try to sort some of the grammar out!
  4. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    Ooh yes... definitely that one. Makes me shudder.
  5. Tend not to correct verbal inaccuracies too often. Take into account regional difference and home langauge. The OP makes a valid point about correcting the family when you correct a child.
    Interesting though...
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Our children know we have different "voices" for different purposes. So how we talk in the playground is different from how we talk at home, is different how we talk in class, is different to how we talk when we have tea with the queen ... and sometimes they remember to use them
  7. wellingtonboot

    wellingtonboot New commenter

    What about the use of "we was"? Poor grammar or local dialect?
    Even the TAs here use it, so it feels like a losing battle...
  8. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    As Msz says, we use a different register for different contexts.
    When talking to me, I expect a certain formality from the children, not necessarily because I need it, but because it may be one of the few contexts where they get the opportunity to apply it.
    And so, yes, I would correct "we was..."
  9. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    I would say that is poor grammar. It would be marked as such in any test.
    My favourite is 'can I have a toilet?'

    Maybe the children think I have a secret stash of them in my cupboards.
  10. One I find I correct quite often is when the children use 'f' and 'v' sounds instead of 'th'. I tell them it gives them an excuse to stick their tongue out at me ;o)
    Various Norfolkisms arise, but as mentioned, TAs/MSAs/other staff and parents use these anyway so is it worth it...?

    I like the quirkiness (a word?!) of our language and how children learn and express it.
  11. I correct was/were and is/are a lot, I even do whole focus tasks on it as it seems to be such a problem at my school! I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle though as most of the TAs and parents say 'I were....'

    How do you deal with regional slang? I teach in Yorkshire but I'm not from here originally. When I first started teaching I didn't have a clue what half the children were talking about! I was wary of correcting them too much as they're using words that are common in the area and used at home. We have talked about writing for everybody (not just people who understand the slang) and I have stopped them using it in writing unless they're writing an informal letter. I don't correct them when they are talking though, unless what they say is grammatically incorrect.
  12. I do this too, but I am aware that children then grow up thinking they must always refer to themselves and X as "X and I" and so then use it inappropriately, e.g "Y gave X and I a present", which in my opinion is ten times more grating! I therefore teach this explicitly, determined that no child will ever leave my class unaware of this horrible grammatical faux pas.
    Often, however, I do what I learnt to do with my own children when they were little and learning to talk - simply repeat back what was said but correcting the mistake e.g. responding to "We was on the boat" with "Oh, you were on the boat? How lovely!" and "Can I go toilet?" with "Yes, you may go to the toilet" etc.
  13. I'm also form Yorkshire and yes we do have some funny ways of saying things or missing words out of sentences (i'm going to' shop). My other half is not from Yorkshire and loves picking me up on some of my 'little quirks'. However...in school I don't seem to do this and have never been picked up on it (I've taught in Wales, North Yorks, Hull, Cheshire..
    I make a concious effort to correct the children expecilly when it's just 'lazy speech'. I hate one, two, free.....that really grates on me! I had one little bo last year who said 'd' instead of 't' and 'f/v' instead of 'th'. His writing went a little ike this....
    Yesterday I went to d shop and der was some boys buying der mum d newspaper. Dey didnt pay for d paper. D shopkeepr shouted at dem and he called der mum.
    He spoke like this and wrote like this....however could spell the correct words prfectly well when asked to! I did a wole session on speaking properly.
  14. There was a girl in my class last year who kept saying 'brung' instead of 'brought' - I corrected her so many times that in the end the whole class used to shout 'brought' at her whenever she said brung - LOL!
    The one that really annoys me though is 'haitch' - aahhh!!!- it sets my teeth on edge! I always make the children fetch the big Chambers dictionary from my shelf and look up the word 'aitch' when they say it.
  15. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    It's important to correct children. They can talk how they want in an informal situation but it's doing them no favours not to help them learn how to speak correctly. They're more likely to do well in life if they can speak correctly when they need to.

    I too hate 'haitch'. We don't call 'F' 'fef' or M ' 'mem'. And I get very wound up when I hear teachers doing it!
  16. lardylady

    lardylady Star commenter

    Our Deputy always says 'You was/we was' and even worse 'I seen'. Makes me cringe!
  17. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    "Can" for permission request as in "Can I leave the room?" has been part of Standard English for a very long time. So if you tell the child to say "May I...", you're not actually correcting them. You're just expressing your own preference between one Standard form and another. (A preference which you probably picked up because you'd had a teacher who'd said that "can" was wrongly used here.)
    And, what about the past tense? If you find a child wandering about, would you say, "Who said you might leave the classroom?" or the alternative SE "Who said you could leave the classroom?" Logically, if you insist on "may" as present tense, you, youself, should say "might" for the past tense.
  18. I do!
  19. This made me laugh. My husband comes from a very well to do family (my mother couldn't believe her luck but that's another story!!!) and his parents were always very very quick to correct my children if they used 'pardon' instead of 'what'! Using the word 'toilet' was also frowned on! I could go on.
    Anyway, I DO correct children in my Year 2 class. I am teaching them. If they speak incorrectly (we was, v for th etc) then I feel no pressure at all about correcting them (usually by repeating back what they should say). I have also written in reports about incorrect use of 'f' or 'v' for 'th', especially if it's affecting spelling. Won't do them any favours in years to come otherwise.
    (PS Our HEAD has been heard using the phrase 'ain't' on occasions. Makes me cringe!!!)
  20. Once a student told me with fond memory of how, when she asked, "Can I go to the toilet?" her teacher replied,
    "I don't know. Can you?"

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