Proper English Grammar
Teaching Returnees in Japan - Some of the Problems you may Encounter
Ensuring Proper English Grammar – An Unending Task for Parents and Teachers
by Sandra Johnson
Teaching returnees to Japan, those students who have lived abroad is not easy. They think they know how to speak English.However, they have picked up many bad habits on the whole, and most have not fully learned English, then they return to Japanbut think they know it all. They usually don`t.
As the parent or teacher, you may feel that your attempt to help the students learn proper English grammar is of no use and is just a waste of time.
Well, each and every attempt to improve grammar will be met with stiff resistance. The biggest problem involved here is that proper English grammar is never considered "cool and happening." On the other hand, any person who ignores proper grammar rules and speaks strangely becomes popular if students of opposite sex like the style.
Unfortunately movies and even TV commercials influence the English students will pick up - for better or worse. In Japan,we sometimes here or read, "I`m lovin` it!" Our studentshave picked up this English from the McDonald`s TV commercials.
At least they are learning. Unfortunately some of it is a waste.
What can you do to make sensible
rules more glamorous?
This is not something that you can do in a single day. You will have to be patient. Further, never try to defend the rules. Trying to focus on coolness will not work because you will be competing with the creativity of youngsters who are better at shredding grammar to bits.
Allow them to use some of the slang they have picked up, but explain that it won`t be correct on the TOEFL or TOEIC tests.It won`t be correct on the Eiken or (STEP) tests either.
They may well think that the English they learned in the moviesor in California is correct. Just be sure to point it outwhen it isn`t. They may well be surprised (dude!)
You have the option of both rejecting improper grammar and sticking to tried and tested methods of instruction or you can adopt a holistic approach and introduce your students to not just the language but its history as well.
When students realize that
proper English grammar
is not something that is simply taught but has evolved, they will appreciate its importance better.
Further, students will understand that evolution is a part and parcel of the process of the development of language. In such a scenario, they will realize that what they consider good grammar may have been slang in the past. In the same way, what they consider slang today may become a part of basic English grammar rules in the future.
You may not find this argument impressive but it will definitely impact a teenager who is more bothered about peer pressure and respect amongst friends as compared to all other things.
But by all means continue to allow them to use slang, it is part of the color and fun of a language. Just make sure theyknow it is slang.
At the end of the day, proper English grammar rules must be followed not because it is glamorous or is the right thing to do. Rather, it is the only way you can make use of the English language properly.
The only person who is given an exception and is permitted to ignore grammar rules is the poet. (or Kevin R. Burns LOL!) However most poets stick to grammar and prefer enriching the language by staying within its limits.
For students with a more practical bent of mind, you can explain that having proper English grammar is essential to become a good writer. Bad grammar makes it difficult to create a good impression with others.
Those who intend to apply for jobs or for interviews will automatically understand that proper English grammar use is a very convenient way of creating a good impression without any difficulty. And the sooner one gets into the habit of usingthe correct grammar, the more natuaral one will be during thejob interview.
If you prefer a more strict approach to teaching
You may wish to stamp out slang altogether in your classroom.Personally I think this is a mistake for reasons stated above.But if it is important to you, heed the following:
Do not make the mistake of thinking that you have succeeded if you have convinced one student to use proper English grammar rules for a day or two. Rather, you should attack the tendency to ignore grammar rules again and again until you are certain that the students will follow your instructions related to the language and not their own whims and fancies.
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