There are many versions of this expression, which first started out in Shakespeare's Hamlet when the protagonist pretends to be crazy. If you search the COCA, method is the second most popular word to collocate with madness (#1 is the month of March--thank you NCAA Basketball!).
As I worked with a student today, I found some grammar errors that I have not encountered before. What did the sentence mean? More importantly, why was the student making the error?
Call me crazy, but I like to think students are rational, and the mistakes students make are rational (unless of course they can spot them on their own--then I lean more toward thinking the mistake is a random fluke). I think understanding why we make an error is the first step in retraining our thinking so that the error decreases. The downside of finding out why an error happens is that it takes some digging.
It's especially hard to keep digging when you have the tried-and-true "because we just don't do that in English" response. English, like any language, is chock full of exceptions and logical inconsistencies, so most students will accept the existence of one more oddity of English, and if the teacher is insistent enough that "this is just the way it is in English," it will stop even the most inquisitive student from probing any further on understanding a grammar problem. At the same time, digging for why an error happens takes time, and I don't want the student to become frustrated or impatient with me (and some cultures might view a teacher without a ready answer as not knowledgeable or worse, incompetent). So I find myself in a race against time when I'm working with a student.
How can I avoid giving the cop-out answer "because I say so"?
How can I figure out why the student is making the mistake?
How can I explain the identified to the student concisely and clearly?
How can I make sure I don't look like I don't know what I'm talking about?
Today I figured out the student was trying to use the passive voice, and so we had a little mini-lesson about how to form the passive voice correctly. Sure, one minute and three failed questions into the meeting had me hovering my finger over the "because I say so" button, but it was worth it to ask one more question, to look at it from one more angle, and to go out on a limb.
What is a time you tried really hard to figure out a student error or your own language learning error? Did you figure it out?
Hi! I'm Bill.
I'm all about making English more accessible to English language learners and their teachers. Click here to learn more about me and my site.