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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Uniquely Incapable

native speakers make terrible teachers

18 comments:

  1. 'It just sounds right!' is the answer I always get whenever I ask my friends, who are native English speakers, questions about the English grammar. It really is a pain in the ass.

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    1. lol Right? I'm sooo bad with English grammar even though it's my native language. Which is kind of funny considering I was in AP English all through High School and University. >_>

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  2. A native is nice to have around if you want to train understand words that you already know *in theory*. But teaching - they need to learn it.

    I may earn a little bit of money wrinting, but I had a very bad mark in language theory and would have a worse today.

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  3. [nerd]So if something's behind something else, the idea is generally that something is in a position close to that something else but unseen by observers. eg. The tea is behind the box would mean the tea is sitting just on the box's unseen side. If something is beyond something else however, that means that something is not necessarily unseen, only that it is located in the generally same direction as the something else but further away. eg. The tea is beyond the box would mean the tea is sitting in a position further away than the box, presumably far away enough that it's not near anything other than the box.

    The difference between bring and take may be more obvious when you place the context as here instead of there, since if I were to tell someone that I wanted the tea here, I'd say "Bring it over here", not "Take it over here". So in this light, the difference would appear to be direction: bring is used when the direction of the action is towards the speaker's current position, take is used when the direction of the action is away from the speaker. Consider the scenario:
    A: I'm taking this fondue over to the neighbours'.
    Later...
    Neighbour: Hi A! Did you bring the fondue?
    A: Yes, it's right here...Oh no! I forgot to bring the fondue! Could you take me back to my house so I can get it?
    Neighbour: Sure.

    And blame the outdated English spelling. You really can't differentiate the words without rote-learning.[/nerd]

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  4. Lol, that reminds me of the time I talked to an italian colleague who was learning German (my native language). He asked me something like do you say [sentence X] or [sentence Y] ? Where the two sentences differed by using akkusativ or dative. I said [sentence X] and he exclaimed "oh, so is it always akkusativ after [small filler word]?" and I was like "huh?". Because as natives we *never* get taught like that. In school you don't learn that prepositions x, y, and z require akkusative and a, b, and c require dative. I had never, ever heard that such a connection between prepositions and use of casus even exists in my native language! I was totally perplexed.

    They give kids in school phrases that try to enforce thinking about the "natural feeling" of whether it's correct or not. My closest translation is "if you can ask 'who or what' it's akkusative, if you can ask 'whom' then it's dative". Which of course does not work for non-natives and even fails for many natives who grew up using dialect (which is probably one of the reasons 75% of Austrians can't use akkusative and dative correctly). I have no idea why they don't teach the same rules they use for foreign learners to school kids - esp now that we have sizeable populations of non-native kids in classrooms. The old system might have worked in the 50s but now, with global migration it's just totally stupid.

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    1. I definitely had this problem in Germany until I realized I should just stop asking Germans about declensions, because as you say, they generally have no idea what the hell I'm talking about.

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    2. Hahaha! I forgot allll the German I learned at school between the ages of 11 and 17; now I couldn't even introduce myself properly or ask for directions in this language, but I *still* remember that "aus, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu regieren immer den Dativ"

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  5. "Aus bei mit nach zeit von zu" After many many years, I can still remember those ! "an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen" But another story is to use them.

    It is the same with learning Finnish as a foreigner; they actually know much more about our language than us natives.

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    1. Also "gegenuber and auser". I remember learning those long, long ago.

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  6. very true! experienced similar situations when learning another language and when trying to explain my own language. when learning a new language it also depends on your native language - not everybody has the same Problems/questions when learning a new language...

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  7. This is definitely true! It was impossible for me to explain to my German friend why contractions only have one apostrophe (don't) instead of two (do'n't) or why we use so few commas compared to German. I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't explain my own language!

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    1. The comma one I get after learning German - if you don't use a comma, you can't separate clauses, and the verb has to go allllllllllll the way to the end, which is a super annoying way to talk. We don't need as many commas in English because we don't have that silly rule to begin with!

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    2. The verb is always at the end in Japanese.

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  8. This is so funny, and also brings to point that knowing the language does not mean one is capable of teaching every single grammatical purpose of each word or phrase. The best way to know how to teach a language other than speaking it is to study it deeply, right down from its origins up to its structure.

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  9. More specifically, learning a language as a small child makes you uniquely unqualified to teach it to anyone but small children (think of how normal parents pass on their native languages to their children). :)

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  10. You have to study any language you want to teach from the POV of learning it as a second language. I am a native speaker who can explain things like that, but only because I have an MA in teaching ESL and I still think the best explainer of English grammar I've ever met is a particularly gifted Japanese professor of ESL who taught me about teaching ESL :)

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