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correcting staff grammar.

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by sammy36, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. The term 'where's that to' is alocal dialect which sounds either quaint or annoying to someone not from that area. For you it seems to be just one more annoying trait of this particular colleague.
    My gripe is with teachers using to wrong tense for the verb 'to sit'.
    For example, "He was sat on that chair", "You were sat with Josh", "They were sat in the front row".
    A teacher who talks in this way to pupils goes down in my estimation. I just can't be stood for it.
  2. Is it called irony when a person criticising another's grammar spells receive wrong? Is it a case of physician heal thyself? Is it a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Am I allowed to use that phrase or is it racist?
  3. Good point. Children have to learn teacher-speak, family-speak, friend-speak, text-speak and many more, using language and intonation appropriate to the circumstances.
    As teachers, what do we want teacher-speak to be like? Do we want it to contain slang, dialect phrases, and (different but related) non-standard grammar.
    Maybe we should aim for standard English as that is the language children will have to use in their education - for writing tasks, presentations etc. At the same time we should teach children to recognise dialect as a cultural feature and slang as appropriate in certain communications. Understanding and exploring dialect, in particular, can make explicit features of standard English.
    As for spelling - I don't see any argument there. Children need to spell correctly and teachers should therefore be very careful with their spelling.... when in the classroom... but it's not so important on a forum or message board.
    Having said that, why do so many people on here spell definitely incorrectly? It is not definately. Easy to remember either by thinking of definite as meaning complete and finished or by recalling that it contains the word 'finite'. [​IMG]
  4. modelled not modeled
  5. Hi Sammy

    My thought is that it is never easy to tell someone something like this and you were quite brave to attempt it. Telling someone something that will help them develop their professional and personal roles is always beneficial. They might bite your head off but in the end you have helped them.

    In my experience, it is the person who helps the person change who is that person's friend - not those who know it exists and don't bother to tell that person. No matter how you told them, there would always be some defensive negative reaction.

    Perhaps the way forward is to rebuild your relationship with this member of staff by finding reasons to praise them. Perhaps if they see your motive was kind and helpful they night review their response to it. I hope this is helpful and wish you the best in your job.
  6. byjingo

    byjingo New commenter

    I have had several TA's over the years who say 'You was' or 'you wasn't'. It sends me crazy but I have never said anything. It is part of the way people in this area use this part of speech.
    Another member of staff I once worked with pronounced th as an f. Again I felt it was not my place to correct her.
    Difficult - but I would rather be on good terms with my collegues, and the children hear the language modelled well by me and others.
  7. I hope you didn't say that in front of others. First of all, I wouldn't have started with 'you'. Instantly gets people's backs up.
    Even if you said something like 'we should model standard grammar, rather than dialect, as the students are so young', it's still tricky.
    Even modelling back sounds incredibly patronising. Sorry, but it does. I'm sure she's noticed, which is why she's not listening to you. You're acting like she's a pupil.
  8. Actually, it's fine to end a sentence with a preposition if you're using a phrasal verb. The 'to' in 'where's that to' is simply superfluous.
    If you insist on prepositional accuracy, you end up with sentences up with which I would not put, to paraphrase Churchill.
  9. Maybe having a bit of a sense of humour over the whole thing might have helped. You could have laughed about the phrase "OMG what does 'where's that to' mean?" and mimicked it (gentle, good humoured mockery), used it yourself as a joke, said "There she goes again with her 'where's that to'- what are you like?" etc. It might just have pushed the point home that it is not standard English. The TA might not have stopped using it altogether but it could have given her food for thought. A lot of this would depend on your previous relationship, though, and if it was secure enough to allow for a bit of banter/teasing.

  10. Are you serious? This must be why so many Spanish students come to Ireland to learn English. Whatever other dialect words we use, no one here says 'we was' or 'I were'.
    (Even true blue Dubs, who say 'I done' and 'I seen' ).
    They do, however, say 'I thrun' for 'I threw'. No idea where it comes from. As for 'could of'.... words fail me.
    I lived in London for two years and I was shocked at the semi-literacy everywhere.
  11. I've not yet qualified as a teacher, so maybe a general observation would be of help. It makes me cringe when I hear phrases such as "wasn't you" used by teaching staff to pupils, etc. I might correct my family's use of such phrases, but wouldn't dream of it at work (I'm a technician/instructor). Flaws in people's use of grammar seems to be so deeply embedded in today's "colloquial" English that we are as good as expected to ignore it (lets not even go down the swearing road with this one....).
    However I sincerely believe that WRITTEN mistakes of grammar are unforgivable by teaching staff, and SHOULD be corrected, but in a constructive and professional way. Hopefully the correction would also be received gracefully. Surely in this manner, we teach by example.
  12. 'Where's that to?' or even 'Where to is that?' is South Wales dialect. Tidy!
  13. <font face="Times New Roman">I notice that there are a number of posts on this thread that have been written by new posters.</font> Always lovely to have new posters on EY forum, but should we consider the possibility that the volume of recent posters on this thread might indicate a troll presence.
  14. I was nervous about contributing an item without spell checking first, which resulted in the format of the last post.
    I am just going for it now- typos and all as there is no spell checker on TES forums that I can find
    I meant to say:
    I notice that there are a number of posts on this thread that have been written by new posters.
    Should we consider that the sheer volime of recent psotesr to this thread might indicate a troll presence?
  15. Whilst I agree in essence with what you say, I'm not sure it is possible to accustom ones ears to something. It is possible for ones ears to become accustomed to hearing something. I'm also not sure that the word criticising isn't more correctly spelt without a 'z'. Sorry, I couldn't resist either.
  16. sammy36
    What is the difficulty over correcting (in private) someone's faulty use of English in front of the pupils (and how would you ensure the pupils got the correct version)? What would you do if a TA wrote on the board 2+2x2=8 and ensure that the pupils were quickly (because otherwise they're likely to remember the wrong answer) shown that, and why, the right answer is 6?
    How are pupils with strong non-standard accents and divergent grammar to learn that this is likely to limit their ability to communicate outside their local community? Look at TV programmes that find it necessary to subtitle some, eg, Geordie speakers, and compare with 12 year-olds from, eg, Zambia, responding, without the need for subtitles, to questions about the difficulties of getting an education. They have been taught by teachers trying to maintain a comprehensible norm. In contrast, on leaving a Tube station in an unfamiliar part of London, I asked a member of staff how to get to X. She explained in detail, in I suppose a Caribbean accent. Now I taught English for years in Africa, the M East and elsewhere, and am used to working out what is said, but here I understood nothing, so I politely asked could she repeat it. Very kindly she did so, without the slightest moderation. I thanked her and went out and found someone else to ask. That patient and helpful lady clearly had no idea that her English was not readily and universally comprehensible to other native speakers, and that must be at least in part attributed to her schooling and her teachers. Why didn't they (Surely they couldn't all have been from the same speech community) insist in school on modifying accent and usage to the extent of being able to communicate with the majority of the population?
    The answer, presumably is political correctness and CLASS, as well, possibly, as a misunderstanding of what sociolinguists mean by all languages and their varieties (dialects) being of equal worth: no matter how much the Welsh prize their ancient and expressive language, if you spoke only Welsh it wouldn't be of equal worth with English in acquiring a degree at a Welsh university (other than, maybe, Welsh).
    In Italy, most people grow up speaking a "dialect", which may be barely comprehensible to a speaker of a more distant "dialect", and standard Italian is the "native" language of a minority. But they have no hang-ups about learning and using the standard language in school, and know when to use one and when the other. Here, however, "imposing" standard English and an approach to RP is ignorantly seen (and resisted), by at least some, as class oppression, another weapon in the arrogant class war.
    I started school 60 years ago in an area with a very strong accent, but I grew up with only traces of it, and don't recall any of my teachers having an accent. The same for my children and their teachers. Now that we live in another area with a strong accent, and my wife is teaching here, we are amazed that many of the staff have the same accent and make no attempt to modify the stronger accent of the children. She (a foreigner, but with QTS and a degree inc a 2nd FL) comes home puzzling over (and checking with me) things staff write on the board, since she can't believe teachers, let alone "support staff"/TAs let loose on the children, make basic mistakes in spelling and grammar, and the latter group obliviously use the kind of expression you complain about. That is why I have no hesitation in saying that, at least in this respect, school-teaching has dumbed down and the profession has gone along with it.
  17. Its W Devon/ Cornwall - I say wheres that to or wheres that by all the time - the world hasnt come to an end yet
    Chill out
  18. Polyglossy, I totally agree. Thank you for a detailed and erudite post. One which makes the same point I tried to make, way back in the prehistoric phase of this thread, but for some reason no-one seemed to notice. Perhaps I should of included some delibarate mistakes to give other posters something to pick on!

    I hope people will notice and pay heed to your thread. Although maybe the opinionated and ignorant will find it easier just not to notice. After all, if kids learn enough language to get the benefits they're entitled to, why should they need to be able to communicate (or even formulate) any more complex ideas or feelings? I mean, what should we be educating children to be able to do?
  19. Hettys

    Hettys New commenter

    i am assuming "I should of" is a deliberate mistake!!???
  20. Just the one? I definately had more than one... [​IMG]

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