Monday, October 6, 2014

Who Wants the Language Police Breathing down Their Neck?

by Ann Abbott

I followed @ORTOGRAFIA on Twitter because I liked the first tweets I saw:

  • They explained some common spelling mistakes that I thought I might retweet because they could be helpful to students.
  • They shared uncommon vocabulary that sometimes I didn't even know. I think it's always fun to learn new words.
But once I followed them, I also got the messages like the one above that felt like I was being scolded. Judged. Better not make any mistakes, stupid!


See, I don't even disagree with the tweet above (Quien ignora la ortografia también ignora que perderá respeto, credibilidad y admiración.) It's true; people do judge you on your writing abilities.

But the people who matter also judge you on the worth of your ideas. Your character. Your honesty. Your willingness to communicate. To communicate in writing. Your warmth. Your smile.

Let's be careful about the messages we send to our students. If I found @ORTOGRAFIA to be demoralizing, what might it feel like to a learner who is already feeling shaky about her Spanish? To a heritage language learner who feels hounded (and still confused anyway) about v and b, z and s, ll and y. And those accent marks!

We need to work with our students on their writing and spelling, of course! But let's just make sure that our tone isn't one of judgement {your spelling is bad and so are you} {people are looking at your mistakes, buddy} {you don't stand a chance unless you're perfect}.

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