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Correcting spoken English- how far should we go?

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

  1. My teachers were always on a crusade against "can I lend a pencil?"
  2. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    It's a responsibility that goes a. with being a teacher and b.with being a parent.
    Some families speak 'better' spoken English than others. If you want to give children opportunities and choices, then speaking proper is one of the ways to to this. If they can't communicate then many of the jobs that might be available to them when they are all grown up (telesales, or working in a shop, or at the doctor's surgery, f'rinstance) won't be.
    It annoys me (faintly) that my children have picked up so many odd ways of speaking - from school!!
  3. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Can i hijack this thread for some advice? My children's choir are singing 'Little Donkey' and all sing the word little with a very enunciated 't' - lit-tle. It sounds awful so I suggested to them that they should sing it how they say it, with a soft 't'. But they can't! It seems that they all say 'lit-tle' in their speech. In this is a group of children, some with quite broad Yorkshire accents, they all say 'little' in a very unyorkshire way. I can only imagine they've picked it up from the telly or their teachers or something. Anyway, when I tried to get them to say it in a softer way they just couldn't. The nearest they could get was to put a 'd' in it, which I definitely don't want. I can't explain how I want them to say it, other than asking them to copy me,which they seem unable to do. Any suggestions? And has anyone else come across this? I never heard anyone talk like this when I was a child (in Yorkshire).
  4. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    I'd go with it - when I ran my choir in NYorks, we always asked the chn to ennunciate far more precisely than they would normally do, it helps the audience to hear what they are singing. In fact, one year, when we were doing a play set in space, we even got them to stop flattening their 'a's in Mars and stars. Rules are slightly different in singing, I think.
  5. Niali

    Niali New commenter

    I tried the toilet 'I don't know can you?' response with some members of my class and they just looked at me like I'd gone mental! They are all really bad for 'Can I have a toilet?' or 'Can I go toilet?'. At the start of the year some of them were just coming up to me saying 'go toilet?'. That didn't happen for much longer! They are in year 5 to make things worse
    I witnessed some 'could ofs' in their writing the other day too. I corrected them but then realised I couldn't actually explain why - I just knew it wasn't 'of' and that it was 'have'! x
  6. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    It's part of the verb 'to have' - conditional perfect, I think, something that might have happened but didn't. Might have, would have, could have - the word 'of' would not make sense.
    'Of' is a mistake based on the spoken contraction could've, would've - I can't stand it!
  7. paulie86

    paulie86 New commenter

    Ohh snap. But my parents have also noticed me using it! I also found that lots of my slang words and sayings nobody had heard of!
  8. How about this (not made up - a year 3 pupil):
    "Please may I can I have a go to the toilet?"
    A step in the transition from 'Can I have a wee' to 'Please may I go to the toilet?'
    And it wasn't just once, it was like that for several weeks, after I'd persuaded the class that "Can I have a toilet" really did not make sense.
    I even put up a poster with the recommended words on.
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    8 x 5 is fory. No it's not - it's forty. Can't you hear the "t"? That's my bug bear with my class.
  10. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    Missing "t"s are my bug bear too. I'm always telling children that there's no such thing as a "wor-er bo-ull".
  11. One which really irritates me more than anything is "I would of ..." or "Should of.." in place of <u>have.</u> Another is "She's toocan....." despite repeated correction that a toucan is a bird it is continually used.
  12. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter






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    Wow! What a
    thread this is. I bet you all loved &lsquo;Eats Shoots and Leaves,&rsquo;by Lynne Truss. Possible exception of &lsquo;markuss&rsquo;
    who seems to have read a bit more. (I know Truss was dealing with punctuation,
    but the approach to speech is the same).

    If you&rsquo;ve
    read Truss, you should notice two problems with her approach. Firstly, halfway
    through her book, she finally admits&hellip; She doesn&rsquo;t know all the rules she wants
    to be pedantic about! She gets her knickers all in a twist and finally has to
    ask for &lsquo;expert&rsquo; advice regarding how to correct the rest of us. Hilarious.
    Lesson one for pedants. Have you got a PhD in linguistics or are your teeth
    just &lsquo;on edge&rsquo; every now and again? Next time a pedant bends your ear, ask them
    if they think children made more or less errors of speech in the past. They&rsquo;ll probably say less, at
    which point you can tell them that it should, of course, be &lsquo;fewer&rsquo;.

    Truss didn&rsquo;t look back. What happened to all the pedants from Chaucer&rsquo;s day? Or
    Shakespeare&rsquo;s? Why don&rsquo;t we all still use thee and thou and prithee? Answer?
    Simple, because English changes. When Truss, Humphries and their ilk attempt to
    &lsquo;protect&rsquo; or &lsquo;preserve&rsquo; English, they are of course making a huge error.
    English has never been &lsquo;preserved&rsquo;. It&rsquo;s not a jam. It changes! That&rsquo;s what it
    does. Truss&rsquo;s attempt to &lsquo;preserve&rsquo; English is actually an attempt to &lsquo;change&rsquo;
    English into an unchanging language. Which it never was and (hopefully) never
    will be. Think of English as a tree, bits fall off (prithee) and new bits grow
    (blog), as opposed to a jam or a statue. (Remember, in the end, even David&rsquo;s
    arms fell off!)

    Rather than
    relying on Truss, who after all, was just a hack journalist who spotted a gap
    in the Xmas stocking book market for everyone who &lsquo;hates&rsquo; the grocers&rsquo; apostrophe,
    better to have a read of some of David Crystal&rsquo;s work. Never heard of him?
    Honorary professor of Linguistics at Univ of Wales. OBE for services to the
    English language, over 100 books written. His 2006 book, &lsquo;The Fight for
    English, How language pundits ate, shot, and left,&rsquo; explains the history of
    English, the battles to &lsquo;preserve&rsquo; it and why they all failed (including Truss).
    (Because English changes). I&rsquo;d also recommend
    The English Language, 2nd Ed. 2002, and also Bill Bryson&rsquo;s &lsquo;Mother
    Tongue&rsquo;. 1990.

    Don&rsquo;t get
    me wrong, I&rsquo;m not saying &lsquo;anything goes&rsquo; and we just let kids say and write
    what they want. I&rsquo;m just arguing that it&rsquo;s not the black and white issue which
    Truss painted to sell her polemic. There is an academic debate to be had. Truss&rsquo;s
    &lsquo;zero tolerance&rsquo; has never worked, because our language isn&rsquo;t like French or
    Spanish where there is an &lsquo;Academy&rsquo; to &lsquo;guard&rsquo; it. We need to accept that our
    language changes, and deal with that.

    By the way,
    Crystal&rsquo;s 2008 book, &lsquo;Txting, the gr8 db8,&rsquo; explores that issue from this wider
    perspective of English as a language that changes. The debate is going to go on
    and on (and on). Have a close look at both sides of the debate before you
    decide which side you&rsquo;re going to be on&hellip;
  13. Rightly so- it is very rare that I, as a teacher, need to borrow a pencil from a student and therefore usually respond to this with "No, thank you. I already have a pencil." This is usually greeted with a very puzzled look. However, what I find more grating is the students who simply say "Miss I don't have a pen." What a riveting and exciting fact! Again, followed by a puzzled look before another student tells said student they need to ask to "borrow" a pen!
  14. Rightly so- it is very rare that I, as a teacher, need to borrow a pencil from a student and therefore usually respond to this with "No, thank you. I already have a pencil." This is usually greeted with a very puzzled look. However, what I find more grating is the students who simply say "Miss I don't have a pen." What a riveting and exciting fact! Again, followed by a puzzled look before another student tells said student they need to ask to "borrow" a pen!

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