Dextrose wrote:Holy crap, man, I don't see how you can make that kind of distinction. That's...like...more racist than Hitler on Hannukah. (Okay, it's not, but I love that phrase and I'm sticking to it.)
The kind of Chinese you're talking about (you'd better be talking about) is just plain broken English.
Please correct me if I'm wrong:
A Chinese American saying something like, "Where you at?" is broken English.
An African American saying something like, "Where you at?" is not broken English.
Simply because of their heritage? Is that what you are saying?
As for ESL students, what I was saying is that they're going to be living in a community where dialect is spoken, so they ought to learn to speak dialect and be familiar with a wide variety of dialects. Teaching them to speak properly just makes them sound like an ESL student.
Ok, fair enough.
So, should we start beginners off with every variation of the English language that they might use right from the beginning? Mind you, there are at least hundreds of variations of the English language around the world. Or, should we choose some sort of baseline standard? If so, which should we use as our standard? Or should we choose one standard and only a few of the variations, completely ignoring the other variations? Which variations should we choose?
I hope you see where I am going with this. And this brings us full circle back to the topic of this thread. I teach the subjunctive "If I were..." because it is the widely accepted standard in more countries than any other variation of that. If we should teach variations of it, which it seems that you think we should, then which variations should we teach and why those and not others?
I also personally use it because it is the one I am most exposed to these days (as I tend to run into a lot more Australians, British, and others than I do Americans during my travels). I don't use it because I want to feel superior for my "proper" English. I use it because it is what people use, and for me out here in the world, it sounds unnatural to not use it in many situations. Yes, in the US, it probably sounds unnatural to use it, but I have not lived in the US for 7 years.
So, the subjunctive is dying. Fine. Let it die. But until the majority stops using it, I will teach it as the baseline standard for English for my ESL classes (which causes a rather nice Catch-22: it won't die until enough people stop using it. People won't stop using it as long as it's being taught. It will continue to be taught until the majority of the people stop using it). Now, like I said before, I don't penalize students for not using it, and I do tell them that, for example, in the US "If I was" is the standard.
Now, mind you, if I were teaching ESL in the United States, I would probably be more inclined to teach the "local standard", but since I have never taught ESL in the United States, I tend to teach the "international standard".
The best non-native speakers I know (and I don't think you can pick many colleges with a wider variety than we have here) are the ones who speak like my yankee friends in regular conversation. That's not going to stop them from being good formal speakers elsewhere. In fact, they're probably the best at that, too, because they understand the emotion of the language in addition to the dry vocabulary.
I'm curious. Have you ever taught ESL to a student with no English ability beyond making the sentence "This is a pen"?
Of course, advanced students will have the ability to distinguish between formal and informal English and be able to pick up the "local dialect" of wherever they happen to be. However, beginners need to learn the basic rules and get used to the basic thinking style behind the language before they can start applying any of these variations. They get confused enough as it is just trying to reconcile the differences in thinking style with English and their native language. You'd be amazed at how some students can get really confused and have a hard time understanding some things we consider to be very simple, and this happens because they haven't wrapped their heads around the thinking style behind the language. Once they reach a point where they are actually using English thinking style when they use English (as opposed to translating in their heads) then they can start getting used to the variations (and usually that happens automatically because their brains understand how English works on a practical level instead of just an intellectual level). Until that point, however, I prefer to keep it simple and follow the standard.
Again, I'm curious. Are you fluent (to the extent that you think in the language) in any other languages? If so, does that language have many different dialects? If so, then surely you can see what I am saying here. If you had to start off with every variation would you have still been able to pick up the language?
For the record: I speak standard Japanese, using a lot of Yokohama slang, and I can imitate Osaka dialect well enough, and I understand Osaka and Kyoto Japanese with little problems (Kagoshima Japanese and Akita Japanese might as well be different languages to me
). (no, I'm not bragging. I'm just stating my credentials). I learned all the variations after I became comfortable with the basic, standard Japanese. If I had started off with someone trying to teach me, "This is how we say it in Tokyo, this is how we say it in Akita, this is how we say it in Osaka, this is how we say it in Kagoshima, and this is how we say it in Okinawa," then I would never have progressed in the language.
From my position, I am not arguing against variations in the language. However, as a teacher to basic students with little or no English experience, I'm going to stick with the most commonly used (IN THE WORLD) variation as the baseline.Note: those last questions about your teaching experience and your language ability are NOT intended to judge you in any way. I'm just trying to see where you are coming from. The question about fluency is not meant to compare you and I. I'm just wondering if you have gone through what any and all ESL students go through. Cheers.