A Classroom Case: “This Embarasses You and I”

Some of you may have seen the recent article “This Embarrasses You and I” by Sue Shellenbarger. Shellenbarger discusses the impact of informal communication (e.g., through email, Twitter, and texting) on the use of standard grammar in the workplace. She cites one survey in which 45% of 430 employers say they provide some kind of remedial writing training to employees. Other employers hold competitions to try to improve employees’ grammar, while some require spelling and grammar tests as terms of hire.

Also included with the article are a short video interview with Shellenbarger (“Managers Fight Grammar Gaffes at Work”) and an interactive, 21-question grammar quiz.

The article and video present a classroom opportunity to discuss the importance of good grammar to one’s professional image and the need to tailor one’s language to the audience and occasion, while the interactive quiz might challenge some students’ perceptions of their grammar skills.

However, if you’re looking for something more extensive, the Wall Street Journal’s Weekly Review: Accounting” provides a more in-depth case based on Shellenbarger’s article. Discussion questions range from the introductory to the advanced. These questions are accompanied by a small-group assignment requiring students to take the interactive quiz, work with group members to determine the reasons for their errors, and analyze which errors are most common among group members.

If you have other suggestions for using this article in the classroom, please share them with us.

Many thanks to Meg, my colleague, for passing this information along so that I could share it with you.

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