Posted by: gdevi | December 11, 2014

To Sir, With Love

You know, I am watching my students take their final grammars exam, and each year this happens, but when it does, it just confirms for me what a wondrous thing it is to teach and to learn. My students are all rapt and intent in their exams, and I can tell by the overall energy in the room that they are doing well in the exam. This is why I teach. I discovered very early on in my life that I was good at explaining complex concepts clearly to other people. Usually, grammar and linguistics are not glamorous subjects, and it is rather easy to lose your students. But I have always been very lucky in that respect. I always have at least two or three students tell me each semester, “I would have failed grammar and linguistics if I had taken it with anyone else, Dr. Devi.”  I treasure these comments, because it tells me clearly that they have learned everything they were supposed to have learned in this class. Yes, go on, my dear students, go and become a good English teacher yourself.  Teaching is a wonderful profession and English is a gorgeous language, and the more you learn about the language, the finer your sensibility will become. You know, for the final exam, I always give them a 5 point extra credit–usually something simpler than the graded questions–and as they leave the exams on my table and walk out, I am getting a kick out of looking at their exams and seeing what they have done for the extra credit. This was their extra credit question:

Write a conversation between two individuals that incorporates the following grammatical constructions: label them correctly:

a noun phrase with a prepositional modifier

a past participle of the verb

a subordinate clause with a non-finite verb

an extraposed subject

the particle “up”

Some of them have written very funny exchanges, all grammatically correct, of course. Some of them have left little notes for me on the exam. A young woman has drawn me a beautiful flower. Thank you, everyone; after such love, who needs Christmas presents? Have a safe and wonderful holiday, and see you in spring.


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