Do You Overcorrect Your Kids’ Spoken English?
Note: This post is directed at moms and dads. If you are one of my many teenaged subscribers, I apologize, but I’m really not excluding you. Go ahead and read it — you just might get something out of it yourself.
What bugs you the most about the way your kids talk? Is it confusing pronoun case?
“Me and Erma are gonna go fishing.”
Using sound effects instead of words?
“It was all like kaboosh!”
The ubiquitous like?
“He’s, like, such a dweeb.”
Or maybe it all drives you crazy. And embarrasses you when your child speaks like this in public. Believe me, I understand. The pressure increases when you are an English teacher and president of an online writing company. People call me just to inform me of grammar sins committed by my children.
But how do you go about correcting their teenagerese? How often do you interrupt a monologue to inform them that Johnny played well, not good? I once devoted myself to eliminating like from my teenaged daughters’ vocabulary. My initial approach — sarcasm — got tiresome quickly (Is the singer only like great, or is she actually great?). Simply informing them that inserting like into every sentence is not only irritating, but also makes them sound dopey had no noticeable effect. I finally resorted to the “silent tally technique” — counting likes by holding up a finger for each one uttered.
It was during this final, failed effort that I realized I was being a pain. More than that, I was being a jerk. I realized that I was paying more attention to how my kids were talking than to what they were talking about. And it was discouraging them from saying anything to me at all. I don’t want that. I don’t want my kids to sound dopey, but I really don’t want them to feel like their dad doesn’t listen to them.
I wish I could say I have arrived at the perfect balance — that I have discovered when to correct and when to just listen. I think we need to do both, but I’m still figuring it all out. I do, however, find myself making fists and biting my tongue more often when they talk to me. I am learning to relax about their verbal sloppiness. Truth is, I spoke like a dope when I was their age too. Kids tend to figure it out on their own eventually.
Like this article? Please consider sharing it or subscribing to our weekly email update! Post any comments and questions below. Bloggers love comments.