You made my point exactly at the conclusion of your response.  Mastering 
written English is extremely difficult even for many of us who have been 
working at it for quite some time. I am not offended any time any person 
points out my misuse of the English language; on the contrary I am 
thankful for it as should our students be and in fact they most likely 
are.  My point is that we should teach them just that as well.

I disagree that pointing out mistakes makes people feel inferior and I 
personally believe good hearted people are assuming guilt for doing so 
which is perhaps based on current thoughts that their educational 
experiences construed some form of privilege.

When we "stop" ourselves from correcting a student, whether it be the 
manner in which they solved an algebra problem or how they conjugated a 
verb, due solely to the fact of first recognizing that they may have had 
a different educational experience than us then in fact we are 
unconsciously putting ourselves above the student and making them 
inferior in our own mind.


Robert L. Ciervo, Ph.D., Director
Rutgers-Camden Learning Center
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden
231 Armitage Hall
311 N. Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 225-2722
(856) 225-6443 fax
[log in to unmask]

William W. Ziegler wrote:
> This message surprised me. I did not construe the preceding posts to
> claim that an instructor should not point out instances of non-standard
> usage; indeed, in several different ways they have made the point that
> students need to know and use standard edited English accurately to
> suuceed academically and professionally. None of us would be in
> positions to join this list if we had not mastered that variety of
> English in one way or another.
> What the earlier writers have implied, justly, is that there is every
> historical, linguistic, and pedagogical reason NOT to couch instruction
> so as to imply that anyone's way of speaking is inferior. There is no
> need to. Students are intelligent enough to understand relationships
> between language, power, and affiliation. I think they can comprehend
> perfectly well why 'yuns' fits one situation and 'you' another.
> The truth is that the notion of "correct usage" is at best soft around
> the edges. For example, is a split infinitive such as "To not point that
> out is unacceptable" unacceptable? Generations of students were taught
> that it was incorrect to end sentences with prepositions. In the space
> of just one soliloquy, Shakespeare's Hamlet ends no fewer than three of
> his sentences with prepositions. Evidently his composition professors at
> Wittenberg were squeamish about pointing out errors; they could see how
> depressed he was already. I once argued in vain that it was illogical
> for a student publications manual to include statements using he/his to
> refer to 'editor' and 'manager' when those positions had nearly always
> been held by women. I had historical reality and logic on my side;
> combined, they were no match for an ossified notion of correctness.
> I wanted to finish without pointing out that the correct form is "our
> students' [plural possessive] mistakes," but I don't want to be thought
> unprofessional. Think of it as a teachable moment. Aren't they all,
> though?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Ciervo
> Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2007 9:40 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Language, status and discrimination
> Unfortunately I must chime in here and wholeheartedly disagree. There is
> a correct form of English and though it is extremely difficult to learn
> and master at times, to say that there is not a correct form of written
> and spoken English is false.  We must remove the emotions from the
> conversation when conversing about a topic such as grammar.  It is not
> demeaning to point out when an individual submits written work with
> incorrect English, whether it be vocabulary, grammar, or punctuation.  
> It is in fact a teachable moment.
> If we are afraid to hurt one's feelings by pointing out our students
> mistakes, then I submit that we are all in the wrong business.  Again we
> do our students a supreme disservice by postulating a position that
> demonstrating when a student uses an incorrect usage of written or
> spoken English, is well "not acceptable."  To not point that out is
> unacceptable in my opinion and unprofessional as well.  
> Sincerely,  
> Robert L. Ciervo, Ph.D., Director
> Rutgers-Camden Learning Center
> Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden
> 231 Armitage Hall
> 311 N. Fifth Street
> Camden, NJ 08102
> (856) 225-2722
> (856) 225-6443 fax
> [log in to unmask]
> Jessica Nettles wrote:
>> I also agree with Nic. While society designates some language
> varieties as "low-status," there is no true "correct" or "incorrect"
> English. I find it to be much more productive to spend time explaining
> how students can use "standardized" English to their advantage, and how
> "standardization" can help them be understood by a larger audience. I
> find this to be an ah-ha moment for many of my students that do speak
> and write in a "low status" form of English. I also like to emphasize
> that none of us really speak "standardized" English, but we speak (and
> often write) the language we're most often exposed to. To tell them that
> the language they learned from birth is "incorrect" is demeaning, and
> defeats the purpose of teaching standardized English. As native
> Georgian, I know that there are infinite versions of English that are
> spoken, and even the pidgeon languages such as our own Geechee and
> Gullah languages add spice and variety to the symphony of language that
> we hear every single day. To say it's incorrect is not acceptable. 
>> Of course, everyone else has probably said this before...
>> Jess
>> Jessica Nettles
>> Instructor of Developmental English and Reading Chattahoochee 
>> Technical College, Main Campus Room B-152
>> (770) 528-4544
>> [log in to unmask]
>> "Nature is a haunted house--but Art--is a house that tries to be
> haunted."
>> Emily Dickinson
>> ________________________________
>> From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals on behalf of 
>> beth kupper-herr
>> Sent: Tue 2/13/2007 8:21 PM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Language, status and discrimination
>> Similar to Black English, Hawaiian Creole English (HCE -- popularly 
>> known as "Hawaiian pidgin") is also a low-status language.  (It is, in
>> fact, linguistically distinct from English and has its own grammatical
>> structure and intonation pattern.)  Generations of native speakers of 
>> HCE have referred to their language as "broken English", and it is 
>> regarded by many
>> -- including many employers -- as less desirable or acceptable than 
>> standard American English.  For many native HCE speakers, the adaptive
>> solution has been to learn standard English and to "code-switch" 
>> between the two languages as appropriate to the situation.  I believe 
>> it's possible for people to do this as a practical strategy without 
>> feeling like they are inferior.  I also agree with Nic that a 
>> dualistic view of language is not productive.
>>    beth
>> )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((
>> (((((
>> Beth Kupper-Herr
>> Professor
>> Coordinator, Learning Resource Center
>> Leeward Community College
>> 96-045 Ala Ike
>> Pearl City, HI  96782
>> e-mail:  [log in to unmask]
>> phone/voice mail:  (808) 455-0413
>> )))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((
>> (((((
>>> Rae,
>>> Thanks for picking this thread back up.
>>> When thinking of language variety or dialect (not "accent"), I think 
>>> it is important to make a distinction between the rule-governed 
>>> nature  of a variety of language and its social, political and 
>>> economic status. This distinction is suggested by the quote from 
>>> McClendon below. He points out that "Black English" (note that not 
>>> all Black people speak this variety, and persons who would not be 
>>> considered black do, in fact, speak this variety) has features he 
>>> likes, but that speaking it can lead to being discriminated against.
>>> That is, because the language is low status, those who speak it may 
>>> be treated as low status, denied access to full participation in our 
>>> society, and judged inferior in some way. So, while so-called Black 
>>> English is as legitimate a variety of  language as any other in terms
>>> syntax, phonology, morphology, etc. it is not considered legitimate 
>>> by most in dominate positions in our society. This is a social 
>>> judgement, not a linguistic one. Few, if any, linguists would say 
>>> that Standard American English is "better" linguistically than Black 
>>> English. Why, indeed, should we even use dualisms of "better and 
>>> worse", "correct and incorrect" when thinking about language? Is 
>>> green "better" than orange? Is a chicken an incorrect variety of bird
>>> because it does not fly?
>>> So, I would ask Mr McClendon, "better" for what? Better 
>>> grammatically? Linguistic evidence doesn't support that claim. Better
>>> in terms of having access to power? I would agree. But at what price 
>>> to these speakers do we seek to change their ways of speaking to be 
>>> like the standard?
>>> So, when we as educators attempt to  "improve" our students'
>>> dialects, we need to be aware that we are not teaching "correct"
>>> English, but rather, "conventional" and "codified" English that 
>>> reflects the ways of speaking of those who do the codifying.
>>> Nic
>>>> Our College recently invited writer, diversity trainer and talk show
>>>> host Garrard McClendon to speak on his new book "Ax or Ask? The 
>>>> African American Guide to Better English."  Our student newspaper 
>>>> ran an article on McClendon.  He is quoted as saying, "I love Black 
>>>> English, it's comfortable, rhythmic, but use it all the time and you
>>>> can be discriminated against. Sometimes we blame things on color, 
>>>> when it could be dialect."  He reminded the audience that there is 
>>>> no such word as "squoze" or "irregardless."  In addition to his 
>>>> book, McClendon has created a website to further 
>>>> educate African Americans.
>>>> I, myself, have not reviewed his book; and I have briefly visited 
>>>> his website.  You may find one or both helpful.
>>>> Rae M. Maslana, M.Ed., NCC, LPC
>>>> Certified Learning Center Leadership Professional - Level 4 College 
>>>> of DuPage Coordinator, Tutoring Services Academic Support Center, IC
>>>> 3040
>>>> (630) 942-3681
>>>> and
>>>> C.O.D. Counselor
>>>> (630) 942-4804 - Westmont Center
>>>> (630)942-4603 - Addison Center
>>>> Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that 
>>>> matter.
>>>> -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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