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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rantings of an AMERICAN English teacher

I am an English teacher who happens to be American. I have a degree from a University as well as a certificate authorizing me to teach the English language. I don't mean to brag, but I am NOT uneducated. I speak ENGLISH correctly.

Last week in my Elementary English class I was teaching the present simple tense. The students had to put sentences in the negative forms. One answer was 'I DON'T HAVE a car.'

One student who is more advanced then the others in the class asked me 'Shouldn't the answer be I HAVEN'T GOT a car instead of I DON'T HAVE a car ?' I then explained that both answers are equally correct. Both express the same idea, but one uses the simple present tense and the other uses the present perfect, which is a more complicated compound tense which we will not be discussing in this Elementary English class.'

This week on some homework that I gave to the students (for an exercise in simple present tense) one answer was 'I DON'T HAVE a cat'. The same student has a daughter who is also studying English in school.

Her teacher is from London. She showed the homework to her teacher, with the answer I DON'T HAVE a cat written in. That teacher said 'That is wrong' When she saw it.

What do mean that is wrong !? I KNOW how to speak English! It is right. It means 'There is no cat in my possession'. There are more ways than one to skin a cat, as the cliche' goes, and there is more then one way to express yourself in English.

The lesson was in learning the simple present and the answer to that homework question, since it said in the instructions 'Use simple present' is I DON'T HAVE a cat.

If a person prefers to use the present perfect tense, like all people who speak British English do, I don't have a problem with it. I definitely don't say 'You're wrong' when a student uses it.
Why did she ? Why say that I 'am wrong ?' Is she putting down my English language skills? Yes.

I am so tired of these British citizens who think that they are the top authority on the English Language. They aren't. Their authority faded with the British Empire.... deal with reality. It's over. It's 2005, not 1705. There are a lot of different types of English out there.