Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mind Your Grammar

During my years of teaching the English Language I have come across and heard countless of glaring and at times very embarrassing errors made by my students. Amongst students of the different disciplines, you could always leave it to the engineering kids to come up with the most classic and creative blunders. At times, I often wondered if they ever knew the severity of the mistakes they made.

The most common one would be the confusion of the singular and plural object verb agreement. Despite going through repetitious explanation and exercises on grammar rules and usage, these kids would happily utter sentences like these.

“You IS my course mate. We study together.” Gosh, as an English teacher, when hearing such an utterance, you wouldn't know how to react. Should I scream or should I weep?? All the effort in teaching them kids to speak correctly had gone down the drain. And some of these kids were already in semester three, meaning they have gone through 3 semesters of English programs, not counting the 11 years of learning English in school.

The other classic one is the confusion of the verbs in the past tense. As such, the emergence of these somewhat “creative” and deplorable, grammatically incorrect sentences would have many of our jaws dropping. Thus, you’d hear students saying “goed” as the past tense of “go” and “sitted” for “sit. One very smart student of mine even said that the past tense of “put” was “putted. So, how on earth could a teacher move on to teach the language from here?

I guess the situation now is no better from those teaching days of mine. That day on my flight to Kota Kinabalu I overheard the stewardess saying this, “Excuse me sir, would you like A water?” Now, hang on a sec….since when are we able to count water??? You could count the glass, bottles or even bucket, but water as how it is formed is a definite uncountable noun. I felt a sudden urge wanting to pull her one side and correct her mistake. Unfortunately, she was very busy attending to the passengers and I felt it wasn’t proper to make a big fuss over her grammar mistakes. On other instances, I heard her making the same mistake over and over again. By then I was so annoyed with her constant abuse of the language. There was just one last thing to do - snooze off.

True enough, when I woke up minutes later, it was surely the better way of ignoring the whole incident, in a less stressfull manner.

No comments: