I admit I get pretty excited about teaching grammar, mechanics, and punctuation. I see these as primarily rhetorical issues that affect the meaning of a message and the writer’s professional image.
Unfortunately, some of my students (o.k., maybe several of my students) do not always share my excitement. In fact, a few have commented that they will never need to know the material because the “real world” will not care whether they know the difference between nominative and objective pronouns or whether the apostrophe goes before or after the –s.
To spark a little interest and even some discussion on these topics, I incorporate news or current events stories on grammar, mechanics, and punctuation into my course materials.
Sometimes I use an article to debate a topic (e.g., using the efficient and gender neutral but nonstandard “their” in “each employee should submit their vacation request” vs. using the standard but wordier “his or her request”). Sometimes I use the news articles to reinforce the need for standard or precise use (e.g., to avoid a lawsuit or professional embarrassment).
Whatever the context, I’m always pleased with my students’ engagement in the discussion.
Here are some of the articles I have used or plan to use. Do you have an article to share? If so, please let us know.
- “Going, Going, and Gone? No: The Oxford Comma Is Safe…For Now”
- “Comma Quirk Irks Rogers”
- “Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location”
- “Little Apostrophe Confounds Information Age”
- “Facebook Discovers Pronouns to Avoid Grammar Violations”
- “On Twitter, Is It ‘He or She’ or ‘They’ or ‘Ip’?”
- “Sarcasm Punctuation? Like We Really Need That”
- “A Lesson in Grammar and Punctuation from the Court of Appeals”
- “Talking (Exclamation) Points”
- “Whose Day? Well, at Least It’s Not Who’s”
- “‘Woe Is Us’ — Bad Grammar Permeates Language”
- “Arkansas House to Argue over Apostrophes”
- “Good Grammar in All of Us”
- “It’s a Catastrophe for the Apostrophe in Britain: Purists Lament City’s Dropping of Punctuation Mark from Street Signs”
- “The Supreme Court is Split on Apostrophes”
- “Judge Finds Typo-Prone Attorney Guilty of Bad Writing”