Monday, 30 March 2015

The 80 Word Story, That Strikes Fear Into Most Pupils Hearts.

English as a second language has its moments indeed.

It sounds extremely funny, but I have seen it with my own eyes. Oh yes, the counting of words written. Even after the second sentence, each word gets an important number attached to it. What sounds like a walk in the park and let's face it, 80 words is not a lot for us, is far from it for the kids.

At first I thought that it might be a better idea to say: please write a story half a page in length, but I soon realized that that would make the kids highly inventive with their handwriting's font.

By the way, so far I have written 99 words!

Counting words is the last thing I would have ever thought of, and I try and challenge the kids to stop doing it except at the end of their little essay, for peace of mind. Goodness, when a number higher than 80 gets reached ( and I am only talking about a possible 88 or so ) there is a sense of ' over-achievement ' in the air.

Sometimes when I help one of the kids with their homework, which does now and then include writing an 80-100 word story, I let them structure it themselves as there is no point in me doing the work for them. Of course I nudge them along or help with the odd word.

As they start to write their sentences, I always tell them to think of ' filler ' words.

" If you are writing about a dog make sure to add that it is tall, what colour it is and that it is perhaps beautiful. Straight away you'll have an extra 3 words."
But then I realize, that the teachers hardly ever get the children to read books, stories or fun stuff. If you don't read, finding the filler words is not really possible, as you don't know how to.

Oh yes, English Second Language students do know

  • an adjective from an adverb
  • or a form of present tense from a form of past or future tense
  • or a Gerund ( I bet you have to look that one up,...I did )
but sadly, they don't know the real joy of the English language. The poetry of words and their various meanings. The artfully structured stories. The pleasure of reading a classic and seeing the words paint a character with substance and form. A character that you can see in your mind as you read the story...How did you picture Mr Darcy / Long John Silver / Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot?