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Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by mossop, Sep 7, 2012.
I've seen things like prep and vt written in the middle of sentences a few times.
"Je fête" for "I do".
A few years ago, "Ich gehe gern knüppeln" had me wondering about truncheons until I realised the pupil liked to go clubbing. "Ich spiele gern zerquetschen" wasn't the kind of squash that the pupil meant.
It really angers me when this sort of things happens:
Pupil: How do you say ..... in French/German?
Me: What's the sentence?
Pupil: But I only want one word.
Me: And I need the whole sentence to be able to give you that word.
Pupil: I just need that one word.
Me: I need to know how it fits into your sentence.
Pupil: Can't you just tell me what that one word is. please?
Me: Not until I know how it fits into your sentence.
Pupil: Why? It's only one word.
Me; Because, despite appearances to the contrary, I have a reasonable idea of how sentences are put together.
Pupil: But it's just one word.
Me: It's not that simple. Unless you tell me your sentence, I cannot help you.
Pupil: It doesn't matter then.
Pupil then looks incredulously to rest of group for moral support. And of course the sentence produced is utter rubbish.
How familiar is that conversation!
I have a few personal favourites. I love the Alice in Wonderland type images conjured up by this gem;
Ils jouent au grillon avec une chauve-souris.
This had me puzzled. Je suis tombe sur mon am fam. The student had looked up butt, which was listed as American Familiar.
These are 2 splendid examples from examining.
Estoy espalda. I am back
Tengo garbanzo Espana. I have been to Spain.
Then there is the mysterious chrysenteme. One commonly used dictionary gave this as a translation for mum. I have seen many strange family line up containing this flower. e.g.
Mon pere. ma chrysanteme et ma soeur.
A recent one I had: "J'ai bu deux lunettes de coca"
I like this one I had recently
A reason for not smoking was...c'est mauvais pour la lande( they had wanted health but looked up heath!)
Have lost count of the number of times students have asked me for the French for "the" and been told that there were several possibilities. On one such occasion afellow student piped up, "Don't worry sir's only joking!"
A lovely, hard-working pupil in a bottom set Year 8 French class that I covered for a couple of months was having a go at writing about what she normally does for her holidays.
We had gone over a' + town/city, en + country a few lessons before, but she'd clearly forgotten and had tried using the dictionary instead. Unfortunately, it seems that she hadn't been taught how to use a dictionary before.
Her paragraph was full of the word 'prep', short for preposition!
Not quite the same thing but a few years ago when I did personal information in year 10 for Geschlecht one boy wrote"noch nicht."
Just marking some year 9 work and I have seen J'ai troupeau- I he(a)rd!
my daughter produced the sentence j'ai utilise(should have accent) manger.
Many errors appear to be the result of students not knowing their own language properly. Another French favourite of mine is je suis allé duvet la rue.
In the context of "Write an interview with a celebrity":
"Comment beaucoup de films avez-vous étoilé dans?"
I love the separate translation of how and many, and I think it's quite impressive to put a noun into the perfect tense.
It is great.In a similar mode, in a speaking task about healthy living, I heard je ne coca pas car c'est mauvais pour les dents.
Many errors mentioned here and elsewhere are simply caused by the student not understanding his or her own language. I do love the idea of nouns conjugated and made negative!
I suppose it's my own fault because I threw out the dictionaries after all the abuse they were getting, not just in the pupils' inability to use them properly but also because the pupils thought up all that hilarious graffiti.
Even when I patiently explain, by way of example, that Je m'appelle .. / Ich heiße .... are hardly word for word translations of My name is ... or that there are even occasions when there is logic behind the French depuis or the German seit because the action isn't finished, I am confronted with resentment, "But <u>we</u> say ....". It's as if that is all the justification the pupils need that it is speakers of other languages who are inherently wrong and that the English language is a model of clarity and consistency.
This can sometimes lead to really deep and meaningful exchanges about which language is easiest to learn. I then - again patiently, although my patience is by this time nearing exhaustion - point out that no language can be learned without effort. Trying also to get across that languages demand respect is largely a waste of time.
Rant over. Time to go and meet the challenges of the day.
Just had my first homework from year 9 French about past, present amd future leisure activities. One student had used google translate or some such tool which just leaves conjugated verbs in English so I regularly had je went!
I had a load of Year 7 storyboards full of the "word" im. I wondered what on earth was going on, then realised that these kids probably don't capitalise or use punctuation properly (at least, not on the computer, even if they do in their English lessons), so whilst Google Translate would probably have turned I'm into je suis, it didn't know what to do with im!
But then there are things that English says that are clearly bonkers. Like describing something before you've even said what it is:
The head teacher has a large, hairy, black, slobbery, well groomed... poodle.
What sort of language tells you what something is like before you say what it is!
I would like to eat a cheese..... sandwich.
Pupils seem to admit that on this occasion English is odd, and then go on to accept other things from there...
I did make the point in post 18 that students think that English is a model of clarity and consistency, but no language is. Being a simultaneous translator from German into English must be fun when you have to wait half an hour for the verb.
Il aime portion peupler (He likes helping people) - written by two students in homework, who I accused of copying each other! No, they were just as daft as each other.