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Teaching Children Respect for the English Language
Webster’s dictionary defines English as the application to apply the principles of English pronunciation, spelling, etc. (Webster’s 2004). The English language has clearly changed in pronunciation over the years. For example, the sentence, “Mom, do you wish me to unload the groceries?” is now said shorter like: “Ma, do ya want me to get the bags?” In our fast past society, we sometimes forget to utilize proper English and indeed some of us have forgotten to use it at all.
What are the specific “rules” today when teaching children the English Language? Dean, a former third grade teacher says, “Students are just not reading-nor are they writing enough in today’s world.. .furthermore, I can remember enjoying reading aloud, I even read a book in the top of my front yard overlooking the green grass and hillsides. Once I even read a book on a rubber raft in Lake Tahoe–an almost unforgettable experience.” Students are not used to reading in the year 2004, and thus, they need to be reminded at times to stay on task, and we must instruct them to that it’s fine to let a book take their breath away!
In my own personal life, years before any understanding of reading, my mind was left to try and develop the mechanics of the English Language. Consequently, I can understand what it is like for a student trying to learn the language. Myself, and my fellow students had to continually practice with speaking, writing, and reading. Another comment my 3rd grade teacher colleague made was: “Children today are not investing enough time to English, so like the old saying says-if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Going back to the example of verbiage I used earlier of: “Ma, do you want be to get the bags? (groceries) English grammar has been shortened in some instances and one wonders how much English Grammar is being taught in the public school systems today. One hopes that the proper grammar usage is being taught to our students, so that they may begin or continue to see the “value” of proper English. We live in such a hamburger fast food society. We want it now. We want it fast. English cannot be learned properly in such a manner. We need to give examples to students in proper English versus quick slang, etc., and we should teach them the many instances in which proper English can be beneficial to them.
Teaching English, I believe, should be taught like a foreign language. English is a language that needs to be learned, not just memorized. It is the dominant language of our country and non-mastery of it cannot be tolerated from our students. One of the best ways, I assert, that a teacher can teach English mechanics, is to never allow a student to answer a question in incomplete grammar. This must be especially reinforced to ESL students as well. For example, let’s say I ask my student the question: “What is two times twelve?” Instead of just accepting the answer “24,” require the student to say, “It is twenty-four.” Also, expect them to add adverbs and adjectives as well–“It appears to exactly be twenty-four.” We must expect the best from our kids, or they will not put out their best efforts.
We all use language differently in different situations. We would not address our principal, if we are a teacher, in the same manner that we would the teenager that lives next door and won’t turn down his music. Our voice inflection, tone, but most importantly, our knowledge of proper English is essential to obtaining good jobs, raises and bonuses, and just in communicating with others in general. If one can give a compliment to a co-worker in proper English, it may never be forgotten.
In my lifetime I have watched the youth of this generation, especially their language, degenerate. By that, I mean it has gone way downhill in terms of usage and lack of vocabulary. The advent of Play Station II, less reading of books, and the informational age, has left students unable to compete and cope. My own brother may not even know to say: “Thank you sir or maam” after a job interview. I’m half sure he does not.
Why is English Grammar teaching important? Why is formal English usage important to daily life? The first thing we need to teach our students is that proper English will help you in your life to be a better communicator, increase and promote yourself in life, and that people will give you more respect and appreciation the minute you utilize it.
It is important that I, as a future teacher, explain to them that proper English is essential to the business, educational, and religious world. In business, students need to be able to close deals, communicate profit margins, forecast future sales, and much more. I will endeavor to explain to them that proper English will have to be utilized, because as a business person they will be more than likely talking to colleagues with masters and doctorate degrees, and they will not be permitted to say things like: “Aint this a great pic, dudes?” In education, proper English will gamer the respect of their peers and their professors. They will be looked up to as a “smart” person, and not a “dumb” one. I will also explain that it will help them be better writers on their papers, and they may increase test scores-especially on the S.A.T. in high school! For religion, I may explain how the Apostle Paul was well versed in Greek Culture, and in fact, was a teacher. Even in the religious realm-one is more respected if they can speak fluently and reverently to God.
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