The class is essentially remedial. I’ve got six class meetings to go over the nature of sentences (I’ve got this one going on ALL THE TIME at my house – I’ve been drilling my daughters about it since school started, and both of them can recite the five things that make a sentence complete. Can you?), the parts of speech, subject / verb agreement, the various tenses, how to use commas and semicolons, things like that. It’s going to be a wicked sprint, but I have faith that we will get through it just fine.
While this isn’t exactly what I got into English teaching for – I’m more of a critical analysis, writing about literature kind of gal – I recognize and have a deep and abiding belief in the importance of learning the fundamentals. Learning to walk before one learns to run and all that. That I can get an idea out of my head and put it into yours using nothing but language, that we can share an experience through reading and that we can set parts of our souls free through writing are all staggering to me. Stop and consider, for a moment, how amazing language really is; about how you recognize when people use language really well and, conversely, how easily you recognize when people use language badly. You may not know the technical, grammatical reasons why something sounds right or wrong, but you know it when you hear it. Knowing why something is right or wrong, though, gives you that much more control over how you communicate, how you make your needs and feelings known, and how others form impressions of you. That’s a remarkable kind of power, and we are all entitled to it.
I’m going into this class with a high volume of enthusiasm for the subject matter, and I’m going to spend a decent portion of the first class convincing the kids that this stuff is worthwhile and important. Being able to communicate well is where the real juice is, and I suspect that many of them already instinctually know this.
Many of my students will be attending their first college-level class EVER on Monday morning with me as their instructor – don’t think I’m not mindful of that responsibility. Grammar doesn’t have to be boring, and I want them to understand that I’m doing nothing less than giving them the keys to the kingdom. Get the basics of your language down, and you’re well on your way to the most important life skill a human can possess: The ability to REALLY communicate.