Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Broken English has really been growing on me lately. I bought a book in Tokyo by the founder of Engrish which pointed out the surprising eloquent and poetic qualities of non-native speakers' English. My elementary-age students as well as Korean co-workers and friends use English in sometimes innovative, thought-provoking ways.

I have a student who likes to say "___________ has a what?" instead of "what is ________?" If you think of what something is being expressed in what it has, the results can be amusing. What's a dog? A dog has a what? A dog has four legs and a bark.

Students of English also struggle with using articles in the right way. My oldest students are 8-9 years old and they put "a" before everything. When you do that, you never talk about anything of your own, instead you talk about something that might be somebody else's. "I am going home" becomes "I am going to a home". "I like to ride my bike" becomes "I like to ride a bike". You don't go home to your mother, you go home to a mother, perhaps somebody else's mother.

Too many students begin "I am" sentences with "my is". My is cold. My is go to the grandmother's house. My is not! My is go to the Sally house and come back. There are all sorts of interesting possibilities there that I haven't even considered.

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