Throughout the years, one thing above all continually astounds me about my fellow English Language teachers, researchers, writers, administrators and even students. What is it? Well, it is how conservative they are about language and how they believe there is a “standard” English that should be taught.
I vehemently disagree and really believe we should be totally descriptive and teach with the aim of introducing students to how people actually use the language. Whenever doubtful about usage – I don’t turn to a grammar book but to another foreign speaker (or a few of them). They are my standard, they are my constantly updated living dictionary.
Recently, I ran into the argument that a teacher was dead wrong to use in class – “I have ran many companies”.That it was an “error” and “incorrect”. The correct sentence is “I have run many companies.”
I said my usual – poppycock! That right now, many teenagers and youth are using this form, so it is appropriate and that it actually is very forward leaning. Language changes, we should make our students aware of this variety and help them to “tolerate the ambiguity” of language.
What do you think? Are you one who believes we should teach a “standard” form of English or like me, do you believe we should guide our teaching by how the language is actually used. Are you a kind of prescriptivist or a descriptivist? I’ve set up a poll with a couple short videos highlighting each side of the argument. Let’s see who believes what!
By the way – one great place for grammar discussion is Richard Firsten’s Grammatically Speaking.