Wednesday, February 17, 2016

When it can be embarrassing to receive a national award from Singapore

If I were a teacher in Singapore, I would reject this award if it were given to me. Receiving the Inspiring Teacher of English Award from the Speak Good English Movement is like receiving an award for political correctness from Donald Trump or receiving the Nobel Peace Prize from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or the MENSA high-IQ award from Sarah Palin.

A teacher of English who truly loves the language and knows his grammar should have the conscience to reject this award from the Speak Good English Movement. Anyone who loves the English language and who is desirous of teaching correct grammatical English must be repulsed by the Movement and unless there lurks within his heart some traitorous element, it is impossible for him to accept an Award from what is essentially the Archenemy of good standard English.

The Movement posted this on their Facebook page yesterday:

This is an announcement to get people to nominate their favourite English teacher for the award. But the Movement can't even get its first sentence grammatically correct. 'Know a teacher who inspires... and are...'

Let me assure you this is not just an oversight or a slip of the pen or the keyboard. The Movement ALWAYS gets its grammar wrong. Getting the subject-verb agreement wrong is nothing new for the Movement. About ten years ago, the Speak Good English Movement published its notorious grammar book which is aptly titled ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN or more accurately, ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN BY THE SPEAK GOOD ENGLISH MOVEMENT and this is what their grammar book says:

1. 'Alan and George works as a team' is acceptable if we consider the two as 'one team'. 

Yes, I quoted that verbatim. Two years ago, I wrote more about this astounding error here and if you don't believe what you are reading, do take a look at that blog post.

2.  Despite its plural form, 'premises' is treated as a reference to a single place or building, for example: 'If you must smoke, leave this premises'. 

I know you will find it hard to believe that I quoted the above verbatim but I did. If you are interested, I wrote at great length about this error two years ago here.

3. 'One of the boys who likes to play soccer is John.'

OK, some people do stumble over this but it's not unreasonable to expect a grammar book to get it right. If you would like to read my blog post on this error, please click here.

The Speak Good English Movement is still clueless about grammatical concord after all these years. Their highly flawed grammar book has been on the top of Singapore's bestseller chart since it was first published ten years ago. It's been ten years and the Movement is still struggling with subject-verb agreement.  Just last year, the Movement is so confused over this plural/singular aspect of English grammar that it could not even get the title of its conference right.

When I first saw these two photos on the Movement's Facebook page, I thought referring to 'communications' as 'it' was just the error of the woman who was writing on the white board.

But I was wrong; the woman was not to blame. She ought to be commended for her artistic skill. She was merely repeating the error of the Movement. 'Communications - Keep It Simple and Clear' is the actual title of the conference itself. This photograph below which shows the cover of the conference programme proves that the error was not that of the woman writing on the white board but a part of the Movement's age-old inability of getting their grammar right. Any Primary 2 child in Singapore can tell the Movement that a singular pronoun does not go with a plural noun.

As you can see, the Speak Good English Movement is a total disgrace. It is obscene to allow the Movement to give the Inspiring Teacher of English Award to our deserving teachers. I hope the Ministry of Education would do the decent thing and bypass the Movement completely. I have been saying for years that the only right thing to do is to disband the Movement.

Our teachers have worked very hard and many of them deserve some recognition. It is an affront to our English teachers to give them an Award through the Speak Good English Movement. It does not take a good English teacher to know that the Speak Good English Movement is totally clueless about standard English. Everyone knows that.

As I have made clear in scores of posts in this blog, Singapore's Speak Good English Movement is incapable of writing a single sentence without making errors that would embarrass a ten-year-old child. And if you look at this one-page list of all the blog posts I have written on the subject, you will doubtless agree that I am neither unjust nor harsh in dismissing the Speak Good English Movement as hopelessly and disgracefully illiterate. I can only hope that the Ministry of Education will do the right thing for our teachers.

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