Saturday, January 6, 2007

Standard English

I'm just getting home from studying for my certification exam and while I was studying, I came across a passage that was very true and just might challenge something that has been taught to me at school- something I agree with.

At school, we're taught that we must adhere to teaching strict Standard English. There is obviously alot of jargon, vernacular, etc. that is spoken in everyday linguistics but, to be successful, the students need to have an excellent command of SE; thus necessitating extreme vigilance by the teacher in this area. This is particularly important for the English teacher at the high-school level.

I tend to agree with this. After all, the ultimate goal of public school is to provide the student with the tools he/she needs to be successful in college or whatever else they decide to do after the twelfth grade. They can't go to an interview and answer the question, "What would you do in situation x" with, "I would, like,..." That's not going to get them hired.

I used the above example because when I start my student teaching in the fall, one of my goals is to make my students cognizant of this oft committed deviation from SE: the use of "like" extragrammatically. It is a bad habit that even I have to check myself for. Adolescents use the word "like" incorrectly in nearly every sentence they utter and once it starts, it is a very hard habit to break. It's the same with the word "um" used too frequently when students- of all ages- give speeches. They don't even realize they're doing it. It sounds horrible.

So, this is one example of why I'm a big advocate for strict adherence to SE in the high school English class.

Then, I read the following paragraph in my study guide in the section addressing the roots of the English language and how it has evolved since the 5th century:

"It is important to stress to students that language, like customs, morals, and other social factors, is constantly subject to change. Immigration, inventions, and cataclysmic events change language as much as any other facet of life affected by these changes... American English today is somewhat different in pronunciation and sometimes vocabulary from British English."

So, given the truth of the above paragraph, how will further contemplation and investigation change my above stated philosophy? Hmmm....

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