Sunday, February 24, 2008

Grammar Snobs - The End

Well I have to say that I think the book was overall very helpful. The ending lessons, I felt, were a little anti-climactic, but how climactic can you really get with grammar? I did enjoy the chapter about Satan's new language; to be totally honest I never really came to terms with the idea that flammable and inflammable were the same (that is until about 5 min ago when I read it). Other than that, I found that these last few chapters were mainly a reinforcement of the idea presented throughout the entire book: use your own good judgement.

Speaking of judgement, I thought an article I read for the Writing Center about ESL students brought up an interesting point about judgement. The article was about how to decide when to correct an ESL student's grammar/wording, and when the wording the student chooses presents his own unique voice. On the one hand, the student may be competing in a sense with native speakers (like if they are a grad student or applying for something), in which case a tutor may feel the need to "Nativise" the ESL student's writing to level the playing field. On the other hand, changing the wording takes away the student's unique voice, perspective, and use of the English language. So how do tutors deal with this dilemma? (This is a question I ask myself a lot, and I'm not sure I ever go anywhere with it). The article offered suggestions such as asking the student what his/her goal was (are they competing, or is the work a personal reflection piece); point out "mistakes" or "un-native wording," but make the student aware of the pro's and con's of using the correct forms; keep the student involved if you decide to reword so the student learns the reasoning behind why native speakers say the things the way we do (good luck finding reasoning for the English language), etc. I just thought this article offered a lot of good advice in a way that made me reevaluate some of my own techniques, and I halfway think we should read it in 435.

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