Sunday, November 4, 2012

English is changing

This year, I teach Language Arts (English), Life Skills, and the Senior Seminar in addition to Spanish. This has given me an opportunity to see our students writing in English. While it is nice to be able to see a visible change in students work thanks to my efforts, I would rather not have to do this much work. That is to say, these students are not good writers, especially in terms of spelling and punctuation.
But, as a linguist, I can also respect that my students will define the future of our language and that, in the end, many of their habits will become the new norm. Here are a few of my predictions based on their writing.

1. Either periods or capitalization will disappear. Maybe both. I'm leaning towards the demise of periods, though.
2. Speaking of capitalization, "I" isn't going to stay capitalized for very long.
3. "A lot" will become one word.
4. Something drastic is going to happen with our spelling. While I completely agree that the internet and widespread access to technology (and the accompanying auto-correct tools) has standardized language, it also means that kids do not know how to spell for themselves. I see orthographic changes happening in the written informal writing of English, French and Spanish.
5. Contractions are losing their punctuation. I doubt that there will be a written difference between "its" and "it's" or that the contraction of "I am" will keep the apostrophe.
6. The use of commas is changing. I don't quite understand it fully, but I think that it is being used anywhere where there should be a break but the author isn't ready to end the idea.
7. Homophones' spelling will merge. I see "I ate there, two," and "Are you going to?" a good bit. It throws me off guard every time, but the kids read over it without pause.

What do you think, fellow English teachers? What did I miss?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Independent learning in Langauge Arts

I write this as a follow-up to my previous post about our Language Arts class and their goal to change the world through writing.

Right now, they are all working independently.  Here's what they're doing.

-One is reading The Last Child in the Woods on GoogleBooks.
-Another is looking up celebrities that were bullied.
-The animal-lovers are conducting informational interviews over the phone. (They just made a blog -- check it out!)
-A pair is writing a skit to perform for children in local hospitals.
-Several are sending out surveys to their classmates to gauge knowledge and interest.
-The designer is learning how to actually make clothes (instead of just dream about them).
-My language learner is tutoring others on LiveMocha to understand how language is acquired.
-One is making a blog about the human heart.
-Two are engaged in a hot debate about what to do next.
-My peacenik is researching Gandhi.

Man, are they focused! They don't even have instructions. I just asked them to have a specific goal for today and to come back to me in an hour to describe their progress to the class. I am one lucky duck to have kids so dedicated and interested!