May 24, 2012 by k. liz
Today’s post is not a research study or essay as I have subjected you to recently. It is more of my own wonderings and ponderings as I think through some ideas related to education and specifically English education. And actually, as I wrote this, it got longer than I anticipated, so this will be a two part post. 🙂
As I write this, my spell checker is going crazy! The default language on this computer is Turkish, so it puts a red squiggly line underneath EVERY word that I write! Then, when I hit enter, some of them go away, but not all of them.
Is this a relevant topic? I really think it is. I was thinking of this today as I was skyping my Dad back in PA. I was typing on my iPad, which isn’t the easiest thing to do, and I was butchering words, but I didn’t worry about it so much because I knew that my iPad would auto correct most of them. (And I do really dislike mispelled words, by the way!) So, what am I getting at? Well, I’d like to briefly explore three thoughts I’ve been mulling over regarding spelling and grammar in the English education classroom. These thoughts are: 1) Are spelling and grammar really important? 2) Do we communicate that they are important? 3) What’s a good model for approaching these things in the classroom? I’ll post on the first question today, and the second two next week!
1. Are spelling and grammar really important?
And this is where I make all of my friends or enemies, right? I’m still on the fence on this issue, so don’t kill me yet. On the one hand, I really firmly believe that these things are hugely important. Let me just add in here that I am a Christian (I have not tried to hide that on this site, so I hope that you already knew that!) and I feel that my beliefs really inspire me to pursue excellence. For me, that means that I can’t just be lazy with my grammar or spelling, because that does not really reflect excellence. Perhaps I will bring up the idea of excellence, education, and Christianity in another post, because that is not the topic of this one! That being said, I am not saying that only Christians care about grammar and spelling! Rather, what I am saying is that generally people care about grammar and spelling because they are motivated by something. For me, it is partly my belief in God that motivates my spelling and grammar. I’m curious what it might be for you! (I’m also curious as to which standard of spelling you actually follow . . . are my u’s in curious really throwing you off?)
That being said, I also think that someone who uses proper grammar and spelling carries a different persona and a different level of respectability than people who don’t care about spelling and grammar. Not to say that people who have poor grammar or spelling are not respectable, but there is a slight shift (for me anyway) when I encounter someone who does or does not have a strong command of grammar or spelling.
So, I have all of that on the side of “Yes! Grammar matters!” And then I turn to . . . but does it really? With the advent of the technological age, texting, tweeting, etc. does it really really matter? Would you argue against me that technology is changing our standard of spelling and even the inflexibility of our grammar structures? My husband received a text the other night from a friend that said “How u like this app?” (and not stereotyping or anything, but it was a middle-aged white male from Canada.) Grammar has taken a backseat to communication in the modern technological era, in the minds of many people. I would look through my own texts for more examples, but most of my texts are either in Turkish or from my husband, and we are kind of nerdy and don’t often utilize SMS language.
All of that to say, whether it is texting or emailing, or even writing a research paper in Microsoft Word, in the technological age, either your technology will fix your mistakes for you, or your audience won’t care. Is that enough of a reason to shift from the view of an importance of accurate grammar and spelling? I’ve not entirely concluded this for myself. I still want to have accurate grammar and spelling for myself. So, the big question for me comes in here: what does this mean for my students? How do I present grammar and spelling to them? Do I continue to teach the rules and hide from them the fact that in most of the communication that they will partake of, they really don’t matter? Or do I tell them that all that matters is communication and they don’t need to worry about syntax and spelling? Do I teach them how to shorten their words and use emoticons, or do I make sure that they are prepared to pass English 101 at any American University?
I think that there are some good answers to these questions, but . . . I am going to write them next week. 🙂 For now, comment below and let me know whether or you are strict with spelling and grammar for yourself, and why . . . or why not! And please let me know if you spell curious with or without the ‘u’.
Have a great week!!