He speak well but there’s often just one or two missing letters that make all the difference; he know the rule but he don’t apply it!
I was jogging along yesterday morning, and Gas Panic! by Oasis came on via my iPod’s shuffle. Listening to the lyrics, I started musing about the following lesson content, as the 3rd person singular S has been an inconsistent guest in my students’ sentences thus far in Rome.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, ceci c’est a regular pain in the arse, and here is my humble offering to draw students’ attention to ‘correct grammar’, while also tickling the belly of ‘real world use’, which shouldn’t be looked down upon, no matter what the grammar textbook might shout (“Blasphemy! Heresy! Sacrilege!”):
1) Pre-teach what you need to from the song lyrics below (I’ll leave that up to you!)
2) Ask the students a gist question e.g. Does the song sound positive or negative? Play it for the first time and take feedback:
3) Give out the handout below (only p.1 – answers on p.2!)
Ask students to fill in the gaps in the lyrics. Pair check, whole group feedback.
4) *HERE’S THE CRUX OF THE MATTER*
Try eliciting the following information from students:
Q: What do you notice about these 3rd person singulars?
A: Some are grammatically correct, some aren’t.
Q: Which lyrics would you change in the interest of grammatical correctness?
A: My family doesn’t seem so familiar…He doesn’t have a name.
Q: Why aren’t they all correct? These are native speakers after all (meow)!
A: Song lyrics are often flexible with grammar in order to fit in rhythm and optimal syllable numbers – this is particularly true with the negative form (don’t/doesn’t). There are thousands of other examples…(go look, or get your students to!)
In conclusion, there’s a correct way to do the 3rd person singular, and this is very important for formal, academic and exam purposes, and particularly in the positive (‘he speaks’, ‘he knows’ in the first paragraph). Frankly, committing errors in the positive make you look like a lemon (Exhibit A). Exhibit B:
Nevertheless, especially regarding don’t vs. doesn’t, students live in the real world, not the grammar book Wonderland, so our teaching should at the very least acknowledge that other realities exist. Grammarians would disagree, but real world grammar don’t really care!