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Vicki,
	The majority of our students come from small, rural communities
within 100 miles of our college, and we often face this problem, too.
There are a few specific errors that are so common in that immediate
geographic area that students do not even hear them as being wrong, even
when reminded, because nearly everyone with whom they have conversed all
their lives has said the same thing.  One is the conjugation of "see,"
as in "I seen," and the other is the conjugation of "come," as in "I
have came."  I could hardly believe it when I moved here and started
hearing college professors with master's and doctorates in their fields
using those constructions, even in formal settings, but some do.
	One senior faculty sent a student to me, saying the young woman
was an excellent clinician, but her spoken grammar was so poor, she
wasn't sure she would be able to get a job. That motivated that student
to come.  (This was before the nursing shortage became so severe.)
Usually, however, if a student comes to me for academic enhancement for
any reason long enough to develop a rapport, I point out that in spite
of what an excellent student/nurse they will become, there is one thing
that might hold them back--and I tell them.  I can't recall a single
student that did not respond positively.
 	I don't use a formal assessment, but have found this strategy to
be extremely effective:  I draw a small grid and write the grammar
persons across the top-- I, you, he/she/it, and write the verbs "see"
and "come" down the side.  I fill in the grid with correct conjugations,
demonstrating visually that "seen" ALWAYS takes a helping verb, and
"came" NEVER takes a helping verb.  Visual learners get it immediately,
and usually say no one ever told them that before. (I'm sure they just
weren't told in a way that made sense to a visual learner.) Then we
choose one of the troublesome verbs and have a dialogue about a certain
topic--anything from baking a cake to going to Disneyland.  It's almost
like the campfire storytelling game in which one person tells part of
the story and passes it on to the next to continue. Each of us must use
the verb in one of its forms in every sentence. It's goofy enough to be
fun, which removes the embarrassment for the student, and we do it for
several weeks, until the student's "ear" becomes attuned to the correct
usages. I know we have crossed an important line when they make their
first self-correction, and another when they come in and announce they
had noticed an incorrect usage in someone else's speech. 
	That first young woman not only got her first job at the
location she preferred, but started in management. She was effusive in
how glad she was that her conversational speech had become
management-level in time!
Linda Riggs Mayfield 

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Vicki Dieffenderfer
Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2007 3:13 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: assessment help

We have several students that can write okay but need help with their
spoken language usage (uses "country" vocabulary).  Does anyone know of
any assessments that we can use or anything else that we can use to help
these students?
Thanks in advance!
Vicki Dieffenderfer
Director
Adult Learning Development Center
Tusculum College
Graduate and Professional Studies
1305 Centerpoint Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37932
865-693-1177

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