Collocations, Antecedents, Modals and all that Jazz

I'm up to my eyebrows in English grammar as I pursue the ACE teacher certification Level One. I have mixed feelings about teaching English as a Second Language because of the cultural creep that will affect the foreign language speaker. It doesn't take too many generations to lose a language. Children of new Canadians neither speak nor read their parents' native tongue. They want to assimilate and not stick out.

Because Canada relies on immigration to populate its workforce and pay its taxes, the government provides new Canadians with ESL courses, which is where I come in. I am student teaching in a class with students from Vietnam, China, South America, Russia and Somalia. They range from eighteen to mid-fifties. Some wear hijabs and abayas. They have hopes and dreams for a different life from the one they left. They are earnest and disciplined in their common goal to learn English. I enjoy their intensity and their ability to laugh at themselves when they say "wee pones" instead of weapons.

The more I study these grammatical rules and exceptions, I realize this is not an easy language to learn. Even native speakers don't know the grammar rules. Case in point: "I seen the movie last night" or "Between you and I, we have ten dollars." They have no idea why these are wrong. And really does it matter? Years ago they insisted that we say "We shall go to the movies" for the future but now "We will..." is commonplace and even accepted. A language is a living evolving thing.

Do you have a favourite grammar pet peeve? Do you think it matters to speak and write English as it was intended?


Louise Plummer said...

The objective and nominative cases are so blurred, no one seems to know that objects of the preposition take the objective case.

Or that subjects are nominative. She and I, not her and me.

I'm not sure it matters in the large scheme of things, but it does make me sad..

Anonymous said...

I seen is my biggest pet peeve!
Not grammatical, but I " axed" her a question. BLECH!