Never in my classroom – authenticity and communicability


I hold up my hands that in my early days I was a little heavy handed with removing the quirks of written and spoken English. But this has changed with time.

Two things have come up recently that has thrown this into the forefront.

Firstly during a mock exam presentation one of my less confident students had the issue that she predicted the words she would struggle with. And despite having generally good intonation and pronunciation, stumbling when these words came up. Back in the day I would have tried to iron out these pronunciation blips. My student found it odd that I told her to look for synonyms for the words that might be easier to pronounce (e.g. rivals instead of competitors) unless they were core to the presentation. Her biggest issue in general being a lack of awareness about how good she is, or comparing herself to other students who may have better flow but worse intonation or pronunciation.

How would you have dealt with this? Do you disagree with my approach?

Likewise I am proof reading a thesis right now, where I came across these phrases –

liabilities of adolescence

lead to higher death rates of newly founded firms

external advisors are no substitution for active boards with outsider involvement

Now, previously I would have been anal about the tone and maybe as I have  also been accused of verbosity, likewise critiqued the text such.

The editing process for texts is almost like that of the spoken word. I am now more concerned to not want to effect the style or personality of the author/speaker then to have it sounding just right. This could come from my work with Leipzig Writers and mentoring other creative writers. Whatever the case part of my principled electivism now is leaning towards communicability and not a naive supposed native speaker benchmark.

I know a lot of linguist and teachers may disagree, what is your take on this?




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