Punctuation Matters!

This post has been written in coordination with the latest episode of the TEFL Commute podcast, which I produce with Lindsay Clandfield and Shaun Wilden. You can listen to the episode on our website by clicking here.
Punctuation matters, so here are some fun ideas to get your students to be more careful when writing.

 

Occasionally I’ve had a student who doesn’t seem to realise that punctuation, capitalisation and spacing are actually things that really matter when writing. Spaces are deposited at random places. Commas are used in between what should definitely be two different sentences. Sometimes punctuation is omitted completely, and you’re left with a piece of writing that resembles a stream of consciousness that you have to try and unpack.  ‘English’ is continually written as ‘english’.

I tend to be quite strict with these things, even at a lower level (it’s good to get them out of these habits early, I think) so I talk about it with my students and point it out in their writing feedback.

There is a temptation to ignore these points which must be resisted, I think. It’s very easy to think that the priority must be the vocabulary and grammar, and while I would agree with that, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of form. If the students are writing in the first place, they need to understand that in a professional capacity, which is how most students will use their writing abilities in English, poor writing can create a lasting and damaging impression.

It’s not the most exciting subject, to be fair, but thanks to the Internet, there are a wealth of images you can use with your students to demonstrate the importance of punctuation.

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And a couple of spacing ‘fails’…

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Hopefully using examples like these will make it very obvious to your students why punctuation matters!

All examples of punctuation errors come from here. The spacing errors come from here and here.

“i’m going to italy” and other intermediate errors (Updated)

What follows is a public service announcement on behalf of all teachers who have students at intermediate and above…

Below are examples of common mistakes some of my Spanish speaking students continue to make in speaking and writing at intermediate level and above, even though these are things they should have dealt with at a lower level. They…

1) …swap the pronunciation of e and i

PIE elt efl intermediate errors Continue reading

My Life In 20 Lines – a simple storytelling activity

notepad

Here’s a simple idea for practicing the past simple with lower level students. I got it from Quora, a website that allows its users to ask and answer each other questions. Unlike other similar sites, you are required to sign up to get access, resulting in a higher calibre of contributions. If you’re interested in the big questions, I recommend signing up. Continue reading

Learner Diaries: Reading Woe & Writing Joy Part 2

I wrote here about how I battled with a story given to me by my Portuguese teacher. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you read that first, or this post won’t make much sense.

Feedback, or Should I Say Correction?

So having expressed my displeasure at the difficulty of the story to my teacher, I was interested to see how he would react. I wasn’t too concerned about his response as while he may have flaws as a teacher, but he doesn’t seem to have too many as a human being, so I felt that he would deal with it in a positive way. Fortunately, I was correct in my assumption. Continue reading