Change

I’m working on a CELTA course in Edinburgh this month, with the majority – six of eight -trainees being native speakers of English and something has struck me when we’re in input talking about verb patterns and about correcting students’ errors.  English really is changing and not just in the way that young people speak – these trainees are mostly in their forties and fifties.   Several couldn’t see any problem with ‘there’s lots of names on the list’ when shown it at a potential error, commenting that they not only hear it, but say it themselves.    Similarly, asked to categorise like and love as taking a ‘to’ or ‘ing’ verb, they mostly said, as if it’s perfectly obvious, that both can be both.   And they’re right, aren’t they?  While when I started teaching 20 years ago, I learnt that ‘like +ing’ is from the heart, something I enjoy, where ‘like + to’ is something I consider a good idea as in ‘I like to go to the dentist twice a year’, now I see that this distinction has all but disappeared.   Watching one of my favourite TV programmes, Escape to the Country, I see the couple going into the house, saying ‘ooh, a big kitchen, that’s good …’cos we like to cook’.  I’ve even stopped shouting at the telly, accepting that it’s out there.  Implications for the training room?    Give trainees the message that change is constant and that if one of their students is going to hear ‘I like to…’ on the street, then focus on something else as the priority and avoid spending time on the rules here, and on correcting the learners. And here’s the distinction between teaching and training.  I’m teaching them about current use of like in both forms, and I’m training them to apply the same sensor to other language they come across in their teaching.

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