In My Own Shoes: to all English teachers! | Guest columns

How do you do?

I mean, how the hell are you doing?

You went to college, apparently majoring in English, got a degree, in most cases another degree, had to take some of those required courses (expletive removed), and then finally got a job. Congratulations. Now you’re an English teacher…or so you thought. Little did you know then that you would one day be teaching two different curricula: English and English as a Second Language.

How do you do? Regardless of the grade level you are teaching at, you should try to incorporate certain elements of spelling, grammar, composition, and reading. So many of them, which used to be called “disciplines”, have disappeared. So much so that many middle and high school students don’t even know anything about them. But I’m not here to blame just the kids, because that also applies to adults running businesses today. They were once in school, once had English teachers, once were in the same room when spelling, punctuation, grammar and simple sentence structure were mentioned in some way or another. ‘another one ; and yet, in many cases, it made no difference. I find that some of the worst offenders are those who own restaurants. They invest some good chunks of dough in creating attractive menus and creating eye-catching websites, and yet a lot of them are totally filled with misspellings. Here are some of the most common gaffes I notice over and over again: Caesar salad, Ruben or Rueben sandwiches, tartar sauce, Shepard pie, and “Your (sic) will love our desserts”. Then there is the much-maligned apostrophe where none is indicated. I see this constantly. that is to say the menus, starters, appetizers, quesadillas, desserts. Find?

It costs a lot of money to design and build an outstanding website. There are many variables that determine the cost, but research tells us that it can cost you between $1,000 and $100,000 for a top-notch website. So you might think you might want to check little things like spelling and punctuation before you get it. go live. Don’t assume proofreading is always the designer’s job. So many artists are misspellings.

Just recently I saw a very attractive website for a Connecticut restaurant in an upscale coastal community. It was listed on their menu page, Tripple (sic) Decker Club Sandwiches.

Back to our young people in middle school and high school. When did “you know” finally and fortunately decline in popularity and use, but why was the verb “said” replaced by the adverb “like?” Example: Previously, it was “I said” or “so he told me”. Now it’s “I’m like…” or “So he’s like…”. Those who know that a verb is indicated in the sentence (good for them!) often use “go”. Example: “So I’m going…” or “So he’s going…”. None of this replaces “said!”

I often wonder how it all started. Who went from “says” to “like?” And who changed it to make it now mainstream? The “you know, you know” seemed to come from both college and professional basketball players (the late NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano used to have “classes” with his players where he taught them to speak intelligently when reporters interviewed them), but what about “I’m like?” Almost everyone uses it today, from young people to politicians, movie stars and that woman on the elliptical next to you in the gym. “I feel like I’m sweating here,” she complains. Your answer might well be, “I’m sweaty too.” I think I’ll like to go downstairs for now and take a shower. Charming, isn’t it?

I don’t blame the English teachers. Heck, I don’t know who to blame. I think it’s social media, or the shorthand that evolved from texting so that nobody needed to know how to spell anything anymore, or…? But I know it well. We don’t have to settle for the way things are, dismissing them with a sad nod, a shrug, and a “I guess that’s how it is today.” It doesn’t have to be! You can report a spelling mistake to a student, friend, or family member. When they start with “likes,” keep saying, “Like what?” until they get the message. Don’t tolerate bad grammar at the table like your elbows on the table were never tolerated. Accept only the best. It was like that before.

Why settle?

Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 20 years, including her “In Their Shoes” articles. She can be reached at or 401-539-7762.