Webster’s dictionary defines English as the application to apply the principles of English pronunciation, spelling, etc. (Webster’s 2004). The English language has clearly changed in pronunciation over the years. For example, the sentence, “Mom, do you wish me to unload the groceries?” is now said shorter like: “Ma, do ya want me to get the bags?” In our fast past society, we sometimes forget to utilize proper English and indeed some of us have forgotten to use it at all.

What are the specific “rules” today when teaching children the English Language? Dean, a former third grade teacher says, “Students are just not reading-nor are they writing enough in today’s world.. .furthermore, I can remember enjoying reading aloud, I even read a book in the top of my front yard overlooking the green grass and hillsides. Once I even read a book on a rubber raft in Lake Tahoe–an almost unforgettable experience.” Students are not used to reading in the year 2004, and thus, they need to be reminded at times to stay on task, and we must instruct them to that it’s fine to let a book take their breath away!

In my own personal life, years before any understanding of reading, my mind was left to try and develop the mechanics of the English Language. Consequently, I can understand what it is like for a student trying to learn the language. Myself, and my fellow students had to continually practice with speaking, writing, and reading. Another comment my 3rd grade teacher colleague made was: “Children today are not investing enough time to English, so like the old saying says-if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Going back to the example of verbiage I used earlier of: “Ma, do you want be to get the bags? (groceries) English grammar has been shortened in some instances and one wonders how much English Grammar is being taught in the public school systems today. One hopes that the proper grammar usage is being taught to our students, so that they may begin or continue to see the “value” of proper English. We live in such a hamburger fast food society. We want it now. We want it fast. English cannot be learned properly in such a manner. We need to give examples to students in proper English versus quick slang, etc., and we should teach them the many instances in which proper English can be beneficial to them.

Teaching English, I believe, should be taught like a foreign language. English is a language that needs to be learned, not just memorized. It is the dominant language of our country and non-mastery of it cannot be tolerated from our students. One of the best ways, I assert, that a teacher can teach English mechanics, is to never allow a student to answer a question in incomplete grammar. This must be especially reinforced to ESL students as well. For example, let’s say I ask my student the question: “What is two times twelve?” Instead of just accepting the answer “24,” require the student to say, “It is twenty-four.” Also, expect them to add adverbs and adjectives as well–“It appears to exactly be twenty-four.” We must expect the best from our kids, or they will not put out their best efforts.

We all use language differently in different situations. We would not address our principal, if we are a teacher, in the same manner that we would the teenager that lives next door and won’t turn down his music. Our voice inflection, tone, but most importantly, our knowledge of proper English is essential to obtaining good jobs, raises and bonuses, and just in communicating with others in general. If one can give a compliment to a co-worker in proper English, it may never be forgotten.

In my lifetime I have watched the youth of this generation, especially their language, degenerate. By that, I mean it has gone way downhill in terms of usage and lack of vocabulary. The advent of Play Station II, less reading of books, and the informational age, has left students unable to compete and cope. My own brother may not even know to say: “Thank you sir or maam” after a job interview. I’m half sure he does not.

Why is English Grammar teaching important? Why is formal English usage important to daily life? The first thing we need to teach our students is that proper English will help you in your life to be a better communicator, increase and promote yourself in life, and that people will give you more respect and appreciation the minute you utilize it.

It is important that I, as a future teacher, explain to them that proper English is essential to the business, educational, and religious world. In business, students need to be able to close deals, communicate profit margins, forecast future sales, and much more. I will endeavor to explain to them that proper English will have to be utilized, because as a business person they will be more than likely talking to colleagues with masters and doctorate degrees, and they will not be permitted to say things like: “Aint this a great pic, dudes?” In education, proper English will gamer the respect of their peers and their professors. They will be looked up to as a “smart” person, and not a “dumb” one. I will also explain that it will help them be better writers on their papers, and they may increase test scores-especially on the S.A.T. in high school! For religion, I may explain how the Apostle Paul was well versed in Greek Culture, and in fact, was a teacher. Even in the religious realm-one is more respected if they can speak fluently and reverently to God.

As long as the teacher is finished with the academics and pre-requisite requirements in teaching English as the Second Language or a graduate of a baccalaureate course having English as the major field of study in the academic years, then this non-native speaker of English has the capability on delivering English lessons to the students, especially the young learners to learn English as the Second Language.

Non-native English Teachers are equipped with sufficient knowledge and skills for these youngsters to learn English. During the time where these non-native teachers are still on the process of learning how to teach English, all the possible problems to arise were thoroughly discussed and evaluated. In fact, most of the resources and references used in learning the language and on how to impart it came and were written by prominent personalities like Avram Noah Chomsky, Zellig Harris and more are native English speakers and a language enthusiast themselves. Furthermore, other references, techniques and strategies on how to impart English as the Second Language which were then authored purely by English Speakers were adapted by these non-native English Teachers.

Today most non-native English speaking countries are hiring English Teachers for their young generation. This is an obvious phenomenon that English Language will be the international language to be used soon in transacting business or in a simple communication with another country.

But most of these non-native English speaking countries hire teachers from English speaking countries. Of course, it is logical that the best teacher will be the person who is very much inclined and a natural speaker of the language. Recently I have spoken to an Arabian National who, according to my understanding, he owns a school catering young Arab kids with ages ranging from 6 to 10 years old. He is hiring non-native English Teachers. That according to him, even though these teachers are non-native English, he is confident that they could handle and train these kids to learn English as their Second Language. And he told me that his teachers (non-native English Teachers) had proven a lot to him and to kids.

Teachers are trained to teach with their chosen field even if he/she is a non-native teacher of English. It true that a native English speaker will be a good teacher of the language, but this is through imitation purposes only. Unless of course it the teacher is a qualified teacher and graduated as an English teacher. The youngsters will surely imitate their teacher’s diction and articulation and so on, because these kids are in that stage of learning by imitation. Unless of course, if the teacher has the knowledge, techniques and strategies on how to impart the language is another thing. Whether it be a native English speaker or a non-native English speaker, as long as they both passed to a certain qualification and have the necessary requirement to teach English, both teachers knew how to make these kids learn English.

Though it is the prerogative of the non-native speaking countries School Administrators to hire teachers whom they see fit to teach English with their young generation, they should look beyond what a language teacher really is especially Language and English Teachers.

The SAT is hard!

SAT Vocabulary Learning

When I was teaching high school, I met a lot of parents who asked me what they should do to prepare their children to take the SAT. Most of the questions came at the end of junior year just a few months before the children had to take this daunting test. Although preparing over the summer months can only help, real preparation for the SAT begins much earlier. But this is a point many parents and kids don’t seem to get.

There is a lot of debate about how many words there are in the English language, but everyone agrees that there are a lot! Most scholars agree that there are more than 220,000 words in our language…much more than can be mastered in a single summer of SAT practice. The truth, however, is that most people, even the very well educated, do not know and use every word in our language. The developers of the SAT, the College Board, do not expect teens to know every word, just a decent percentage of them.

I reviewed the SAT College Board website and found a description of the SAT verbal / language portion of the exam. Although there is no longer an analogy section, vocabulary knowledge is key to success on the language portion the test which offers a potential 1600 points.

The SAT now looks like this:

Reading and Sentence Completion – possible 800 points.
‘Reading’ tests comprehension of what is stated in or implied by the passage.
‘Sentence completion’ tests vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure.
Writing – possible 800 points.
‘Improving sentences’ tests the ability to correct faults in usage and sentence structure, recognize effective sentences that follow the conventions of Standard Written English.
‘Identifying sentence errors’ tests the ability to recognize faults in usage, and recognize effective sentences.
‘Improving Paragraphs’ tests the ability to revise sentences in the context of a paragraph or the entire essay, organize and develop paragraphs in a coherent and logical manner.
‘The Essay’- 25 minutes to present and support a point of view on a specific issue.

Students have to know vocabulary, the conventions of Standard Written English (not journalistic-style writing), and be practiced in the reading of highly complex and sometimes scientific text in order to do well on this test. This is too much to try to learn in one summer.

As a teacher, I believe the best way for students to develop vocabulary skills is to read and look up unknown words when they come across them. This is easier now than when I was young because kids now have iPhones and iPads and computers… many have never even seen an old-fashioned dictionary. Another easy way for students to develop their vocabulary skills is to use their thesaurus when they are using their computers. This habit trains students to relate words with similar meanings which develops vocabulary. There are other available resources available such as word a day calendars and non-intimidating vocabulary books for middle school students. SAT prep texts are also available but some students are intimidated by the size of these books. In truth, half the battle is getting the kids to prepare, and intimidating texts do not help. Smaller books or lists of 10 or 20 words are much more effective for students who don’t love reading and studying. And all these SAT preparations should begin during or before freshman year.

For fun, test yourself; do you know what these SAT words mean?

redolent
bedaub
cabal
phlegmatic
bellicose
abrogate
sybarite
redress
surreptitiously
contumacious

More to come on SAT prep. Good luck to your kids!

Communication plays a vital role in today’s global challenge, be it in business or personal affairs. Among the often used mediums for communication, the English language serves as a pivotal force in bridging barriers in communication which can make or break international relations and state of affairs. Of the thousand or so business transactions that occur around the world in any given day, English dominates the front lines.

A Senior manager from Canada instructs business partners in the Philippines and Korea. An office manager from the United Kingdom drops a phone call to his contact in Japan, inquiring about his shipment of computer chips. In both examples, English primarily directs a surreptitious existence in the formation of global awareness and progress.

English is definitely a widely spoken language, brandishing 400,000,000 individuals who speak it as a second language and 350,000,000 or so claims it as their native tongue. Though the numbers do not necessarily imply the dominance of the English language or the exact number of users, it does, however depict the significance of English in the mainstream of universal growth.

If you’re from the United States, Canada or from any other native English-speaking nation, and you happen to visit an Asian country like Korea or the Philippines, you’ll never feel left out as more and more people today try their hardest to attain a command of the English language. Proficient speakers of English, as a second language, can be found everywhere.

Most paradigms have shifted, giving importance to the English language, as it had before. Schools have begun to focus on providing quality English instruction to students in elementary, high school, and even college to prepare their students to be globally competent. Schools in Korea have made it a point to hire native English speakers to properly educate Korean students in English. This task is met with the goal of producing quality English speakers, who can communicate and be equally competitive in the business arena. Among those institutions that stand out in their drive to educate students in the English language; Worknplay (worknplay.co.kr), provides quality ESL training to it’s teachers. It strives to provide quality English teachers to schools all over Korea, making students competitive in their academics and understanding of international affairs.

With this in mind, Asian countries should also take the foothold in improving the linguistic skills of their students, primarily the English language. Mastery of various languages will prepare everyone to be globally competitive.

Nowadays, people all around the world speak English as a first or second language. It’s hard to imagine a world without it, but there was a time when no one spoke English. Long ago, the people in Britain spoke the Celtic language. When three Germanic tribes successfully invaded Britain in the 5th century, they brought their own language with them. This was known as Englisc and it gave us the beginnings of the English language that we know today.

Languages develop and change over time and the oldest form of English seems foreign to the speakers of it today. The first type to be spoken is what we now call Old English, which was spoken in Britain from around 450 to 1100 AD. About half of the words we commonly use today came from Old English.

The change from Old to Middle English occurred after William the Conqueror invaded England from Normandy, which we now know as part of France. The Norman conquerors spoke something like the French we know today and they brought this with them to England. French did not overtake English, as it was spoken by the upper classes. The lower classes continued to speak English, although many French words slipped in during this time. By the 14th century when it became the dominant language again, it included many French words and some of these are still part of the dialect we speak today. However, Middle English is not easy for today’s speakers to understand.

Early Modern English began with British people having contact with people from all around the world. This also meant that many new words came into the language. When the printing press was invented at this time, it led to a solidification of the language. With English now in print through books, pamphlets and papers, there was a standardised common language and fewer differences between the regions. The printing houses were based in London, so the dialect spoken and written in London became the standard for the rest of the English speaking people. Spelling and grammar were fixed and the first English dictionary was published in 1604.

The main distinction between Early Modern English and the English spoken today – known as Late Modern English – is vocabulary. We have many more words in our vocabulary than were commonly used before the 1800s. This is largely due to the Industrial Revolution, the introduction of more and more foreign words and new technology.

Today, many people from all around the world learn English as a second language.