#12 - Poor form.
Sometimes I feel like I’m forgetting how to speak English… or maybe I’m just surrounded by poor English for so many hours out of the day that I start to mimic the people around me.
It’s a good thing that I’ve got so much exposure to English speaking foreigners here or I fear that I would return to America one day and simply give the customs man or woman a blank stare when he demanded my passport.
The text books that are used at my school are full of expression that aren’t incorrect but more so just poor form. For example, Chapter 11 of the 5th grade textbook teaches the students how to ask a friend to do something by saying “How about…”
"Hey John, how about playing baseball?"
"Hey Sarah, how about going shopping?"
"Hey Billy, how about making sandwiches?"
To stand in front of 30 children and teach them something that will most likely get a weird look from any native English speaker is unfortunate to say the least. But, being that my co-teachers report to the principal and the principal demands that we go strictly by the textbook, I find myself teaching children to say “how about doing homework?” as a correct way to suggest a mid-day activity, which isn’t necessarily incorrect… it’s just poor form. I think the more appropriate expression is “do you want to _________?” or “would you like to _________?”
"Hey John, do you want to play baseball?"
"Hey Sarah, do you want to go shopping?"
"Hey Billy, how about making sandwiches??"
"Sorry, I can’t… because that is a stupid way to ask someone if they want to do something."
Unfortuantely, as a result of this poor form, I often times find myself saying what I teach. I know. Depressing. The other day, I asked my co-teacher, Amy “How about getting lunch?” To which she replied “yeah, sure.” Not knowing the difference. And then I shook my head in disappointment.
Also in the 5th grade… it seems that the 5th grade just got the shitty book. Chapter 7 teaches physical descriptions like “he is tall, she has long hair” etc. And how do we ask someone to describe their friend, brother, sister, etc.?? Simple.
"How’s your sister?"
"How’s my sister??"
"She’s good, thank you. How are you?"
I don’t have to explain this one, do I? Again, it’s not incorrect… just poor form. I think we can all agree this is not the best way to ask someone to describe another person. But it’s oh so powerful stuff as I noticed the other day when a Korean friend was telling me about his family and I asked him “How’s your brother?!”
And then I shook my head in disappointment.
It’s a vicious cycle.
Thank god for my trusty support network of fellow English teachers or I’d probably be dropping articles left and right, using the wrong subjects, and making a horrible muck of the present progressive.