For the past two weeks, I've been between terms at the teaching gig, which is an odd time. You get into a rhythm with these things, but you're glad to have the break after you get through all the grading at the end of the term. Which is, believe me, a trial.
I believe my students try very hard to write what they think I want them to write. They don't always write what THEY want to write, which really is what I want them to write. But these kids have been trained all their lives to go for the grade and that's what they're doing.
Which makes me wonder why they're taking a writing class if they have--not hostility, but a general indifference toward the English language. Tomorrow, I'll go into class and lay out the rules, and for the following nine weeks, will want to pull what's left of my hair out when they blatantly don't remember them.
So in anticipation of starting a new term on Tuesday, let me detail:
10 Things My (College) Students Don't Know About the English Language
- Your means belonging to you; you're contracts the words "you are". As in: Your parents are spending $50,000 a year in tuition, so you're going to get this right.
- You don't lay on the bed. A chicken will lay on the bed if you are foolish enough to put one there. You lie on the bed.
- When you're in a car, you put your foot on the brake. If you don't do it fast enough, you might hit something and break it.
- 4. When someone looks at you in a clandestine fashion, he peeks. If you catch him, your ire peaks.
- 5. The only time you put an apostrophe in it's is when you're contracting the words "it is." It's is not a possessive. That's the only time you put in the apostrophe. No, really. It is.
- Too means also or excessive. To doesn't mean that.
- Someone shortening the word "honey" as a term of endearment says "hon." Attila was a "Hun." It's different.
- Some people stare at stars. They are not starring; they're staring.
- People don't walk down the isle to get married. They might fly to an isle on their honeymoon, but before they leave, they should go to the supermarket and visit the sunscreen aisle.
- Unless you're in one of those driving education cars, you can't get into the drivers seat. Having more than one driver would be dangerous. Sit in the driver's seat. Unless you call shotgun.
Bonus: Not every freakin' word that ends in "s" gets an apostrophe, okay?
I'm sorry. I'll be okay by next week. And by then I'll meet the students who'll have to learn all the above THIS term.
Also: Passover starts on Friday, according to my extremely secular calendar. (This happens to coincide with my more fervently held religious holiday, the beginning of the New York Yankees baseball season.) If you're interested in the 45-minute PowerPoint seder (now in HD!), feel free to stop on by. But let me know you're coming, so we'll have enough macaroons.