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While teaching an academic refresher class in a welfare to work program, a student asked me to make a list of the common English errors she should avoid.  The list because the first day icebreaker for new groups and the standard for speaking at the facility—in and out of class.  Former students still thank me for “the list” because it helped them with interviews, work and parenting.  From 600 plus students, a surprising number have kept the list handy for years to improve the English of their families.

ENGLISH ERRORS

 1.     fittin’ = fixing

2.     gull    = girl

3.     baze   =bath

4.     bout   =about

 5.     –in     =ing

6.     dat     =that

7.     doze   =those or doors

8.     dez     =these

9.     nem    =them

10. wit     =with

 11. menz  =men

12. y’all   =you all

13. chew  =you

14. showl =sure is

15. betcha =bet you

 16. nann   =none

17. sometin’=something

18. wartor   =water          

19. flow =floor

 20. foe =four

21. ax =ask

22. lawd =lord

23. lil =little

 24. bitness =business

25. stoe =store

26. lunt =loan

27. wuz =was

28. hur=her 

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When I hear those heart-warming songs on the fourth of July, my national pride is strong.  But, great nations aren’t born; they are built brick by brick and person by person with determination, resolve, respect, fortitude, shame, focus and responsibility.  My friends and I jokingly say that they don’t make Black folks like they use to when referring the character of our parents’ generation compare to our generation.  Is it just me getting old and cranky or are the school kids today considerably more disrespectful and unfocused. 

The disclaimer: there are great teens who say “yes sir” and “no sir” like the young people who work at the local Harvey’s grocery store.  They don’t know where any items are actually located but they are nice.  That’s it; even the nice kids are not resourceful enough the look at the items as they walk the store a hundred times a day.  In my day, a kid employed at McDonalds or at a golf course would impress a business person who would offer them a job just for working with enthusiasm and drive.  Today, a kid will cuss you out for recommending a low paying job that would take them away from texting their friends, surfing the web or playing video games.  If the video games, giant HDTVs and the web are so visually stimulating, how can teachers and pastors keep young people’s attention?

Don’t you dare say go high tech because I want to go low tech or no tech.  Let’s start a charter school like the one on Little House of the Prairie with water pump outside.  Children sit down and learn..period.  If the students don’t like it, who cares because that was the point; learn to do something you don’t want to do.  I would take 20K a year to work at that school over 45K in a regular public school.  If you hear that I am teaching school, tell the local news van to back up to the school and leave the motor running…story coming soon about new teacher putting a little monster in a headlock; parents planning lawsuit.  

People need to have the ability to do what they don’t want to do.  Time for a non-P.C. racial stereotype: many Asian kids are very obedient, respectful and focused before they hanging out with other kids.  Isn’t it amazing that the last five years of being a teen shapes the next five decades.

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