I’m taking a slightly different approach to my weekly 5 Minute Grammar post this week! While adults make lots of silly grammar mistakes that irritate me, I love the mistakes my kids make (within reason)…
The focus of my Master’s degree was on second language acquisition. Part of my learning process was also to think about how we acquire our first language. If we could learn a second language as easily as our first language, we’d be set!
Think about it, we don’t really learn our first language. We absorb it. Inevitably, as children’s young brains sort out all the nuances of languages (and there is a TON to learn), they make a lot of mistakes. Here are some of the mistakes my own children make that crack me up:
Instead of saying “I won’t,” my kids say, “I willn’t.” Makes perfect sense to me! (Why is it won’t anyway? That doesn’t follow the normal contraction rule…)
Another very common mistake kids make is with irregular forms of anything. Instead of, “I ate my dinner,” they say “I eated my dinner.” Most often, English past tenses are formed by adding -ed. The exceptions cause trouble while kids learn them. But I rarely hear a grown-up make a mistake with past tense.
My 5 year old son is currently messing up MUCH and MANY. Instead of saying “How many toys should I pick up?” he says, “How much toys should I pick up?” This particular mistake really bothers me. And I’m having a hard time getting past it. Hence this post…
While I enjoy the silly words they create like punkman for pumpkin and hunormous (and honestly willn’t), there comes a time when I start to correct. I don’t want them saying I seen it and I done it and probably not even willn’t forever.
But, I don’t call them out and say they’re wrong (except with the much and many thing…). Instead, I usually redirect by modeling the correct word choice.
When my daughter says “I eated my dinner,” I form a question emphasizing the wrong word: “You ATE your dinner?” That way, she can hear the correct form and gets a second shot to form the right response without me calling her out, per se. This is called modeling. And normally, it’s all that’s required to fix minor problems.
However, with the much and many, redirecting and modeling is getting me nowhere. So, I’ve started explaining to my 5 year old the difference between count and non-count nouns. (Are you curious? Or, do you know the difference?) Yes, it’s a little over his head…and he gives me funny looks. But persistence is paying off – I’ve been working on this with him all summer and I think he’s finally starting to get it. Whew.
Do you correct your kids’ grammar mistakes? What’s your favorite wrong thing that they say?