As an English teacher, I have the arrogant (and lame) hobby of looking for proofreading mistakes in the real world. I take pictures of billboards, signs, shop windows, product packaging – anything that has some blatant (or sometimes not-so-blatant) error in spelling, grammar, or usage. I bring these into my classroom and use them as warm-ups for my students. This gives them something authentic to work with, and it shows them the importance grammar plays in effective real-world communication.
Now, I can’t claim to be perfect; I make mistakes in my writing all the time, but I submit this example to you:
Hi everyone this is me and my family [I removed the picture] we just moved here about 6 months ago. I just started a job at Carl Black selling cars. I never thought I would sell cars but since I have been here I have heard a lot of good things about Carl Black and since I have been here I found out its true.
We go out of our way for our customers and make sure that they get the car or truck they want and we make sure it will handle all there needs. If we don’t have it here we will find it for them and get it at the price they are looking for.
I made this myspace page to let everyone know I’m here help if your looking for a new or Pre-owned car or truck or if you know someone looking let me know and if they buy a care from Carl Black, we will give you $100.00
This is a screencap of a real solicitation I received on my MySpace account (don’t laugh…it was like, 4 years ago, ok? I don’t use MySpace anymore).
On my count, there are AT LEAST five run-on sentences, three usage errors, two spelling errors, and one word omission. See if you can spot them all. (:
This is a great example for students, and it prompts a lot of discussion. I ask questions like “What was the purpose of this advertisement?”, “Did it serve its purpose?”, “Is his message clear/Does he communicate well?”, “Would you want to buy something from this person?”, “Does this advertisement seem legitimate, or does it look like spam?”
The class can then revise and edit the advertisement to correct the mistakes, clarify the message, and make it more effective.
Compared to standard “grammar in isolation” instruction, I believe something like this is far more engaging for students. I have a whole folder of images like this if any teachers out there are interested. Great teaching tools.
I have taken some of the errors I’ve found and uploaded them on my wiki. Feel free to use them if you’d like. (: