Poor spoken English - how to tackle the issue with the school

(46 Posts)
Eachpeachpearwherestheplum Thu 13-Jun-13 21:19:35

DS started the reception year in September and we quickly picked up that the TA and many other TA/admin staff etc spoke, how can I say without sounding like a snob?! Ummm lots of dropping the T's and odd sentence construction?! I wasn't that worried as the teachers are well spoken but I have heard so many times the staff not correcting the children.

This morning as an example, a child said "Mrs x, x is being 'n or t y' and she didn't say anything, the TA shouted over to my son this afternoon "x you forgot your 'wor a bot al'

My issue is that dispite always correcting DS he is starting to copy everything and I really do not like it. He is annoyed at me too. He also corrected a TA today which must have gone down well!

Would you just except it? The school is good, in a very mixed area.

lljkk Thu 13-Jun-13 21:27:35

I love your typo, ace that.

UniS Thu 13-Jun-13 21:30:28


Not every one speaks like you do, welcome to the world around you.

schooldidi Thu 13-Jun-13 21:31:56

I would accept it as there's not much you can do about it really. It's the way most people speak in your area.

I found myself cringing at dd1's English teacher's grammar at parents' evening, but dd1 is progressing well and thoroughly enjoying English so it obviously isn't affecting her too much.

tethersend Thu 13-Jun-13 21:32:55

I'd leave well alone.

It would be as rude as telling someone they'd spelled despite and accept wrongly, and you wouldn't do that, would you?

I certainly wouldn't.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Thu 13-Jun-13 21:34:11

yes, I would just accept it.

Children will hear all manner of accents and ways of speaking and that's fine.

You speak to them how you want them to speak and correct them if they speak in a way you would rather they don't - "it's not wor-a bot al, it's water bottle" for example

But you can't change the way the rest of the world speaks.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Thu 13-Jun-13 21:35:14

Oh. And stop your child from correcting the TAs. It's really rude and they no doubt have a word used in the staffroom for kids like that... grin

thornrose Thu 13-Jun-13 21:38:38

I think you should except it dispite how much it upsets you.
Do you mind being corrected, out of interest?

FadedSapphire Thu 13-Jun-13 21:39:16

The more I correct mine the more they do it. Is there a 't' in water?' I bellow. There are two 't's in 'better', 'little'.... whatever.
Careful in the playground when you 'correct'- I have probably unintentionally offended other parents....

FadedSapphire Thu 13-Jun-13 21:41:06

With my Pfb I did say to teacher in year 1 that my angel was dropping his 't's and could they correct him if they heard. blush.

LizzieVereker Thu 13-Jun-13 21:41:36

You can't police other people's regional accents. A glottal stop is not necessarily an indicator of a lack of intelligence, the TA might well be excellent.

If the staff were using slang vocabulary I can understand why you might raise an eyebrow, but I still don't think it's our (parents) place to comment on it.

FadedSapphire Thu 13-Jun-13 21:43:26

Mmm regional accents is interesting thought. Is it Newcastle accent where 't's are dropped? [I am not in Newcastle].

thornrose Thu 13-Jun-13 21:57:59

I am a TA and if you went into the staff room at my school you couldn't identify who was a teacher or TA just by their accent/pronunciation.

Where do you live? Is there really such an obvious divide between the accents of TAs/admin staff and teachers?

lljkk Thu 13-Jun-13 21:58:03

DC lose T's in Norfolk. Drives DH batty.

clam Thu 13-Jun-13 23:06:35

I've no idea who influences children the most, parents or school staff and friends. But somehow I seem to have ended up with ds who speaks a bit like Prince William, and dd, who veers towards "am I bovvered" on occasion.

Eachpeachpearwherestheplum Thu 13-Jun-13 23:11:03

Interesting points - thank you. Will relax...a little! clam hilarious!

Farewelltoarms Fri 14-Jun-13 09:51:15

My son speaks like Little Lord Faunteroy for some reason, despite all his TAs having strong London accents. One little girl in his class said to me, 'I like ds, even though he talks funny'. Anyway, I think it would be utterly outrageous to complain that the TAs (who get paid f all) don't speak like 1930s BBC continuity announcers. Their accents don't bother me. I do get more irritated by the 'you was' and 'they was' etc because this is actually incorrect as opposed to just different.

EBee57 Fri 14-Jun-13 10:17:08

For what it's worth - I've always tried to make sure my dcs appreciate that they need to be able to speak appropriately for the situation they are in - with friends, family, adults, potential employers - that way I hear them speaking clearly and well (to my ears & yes it is subjective) and know that they can cope in the wider world as well. I try not to knock other accents but as Farewell says incorrect language is another matter.

If the situation got at all fraught then I'd remind them of the elocution lessons (a paid for extra at my state primary) my mother sent me to and how lucky they were to have the benefit of her expenditure! and not to have been through the same experience!

bella65 Fri 14-Jun-13 11:27:38

It's how you speak at home that matters most.

I went to a school in a region with a very strong accent/ dialect. I never spoke in a strong dialect because my parents encouraged me not to, considering it was a reflection of poor education and would limit my job prospects in later life, and yes, it was unashamedly class- based.

When I moved to an area which had a much more RP way of speaking I was never identified as being from X part of the country.

I'd give up on trying to police who your child mixes with but make sure that at home you encourage them to speak in a way that is acceptable to you and doesn't automatically label them- which accents can, no matter how pc we try to be about them!

ZolaBuddleia Fri 14-Jun-13 11:35:18

Agree that there's a big difference between accent and grammatical errors. Surely teachers and TAs should use correct grammar when speaking, but regional accent variations wouldn't bother me.

Porka Fri 14-Jun-13 11:56:55

There is nothing wrong with different forms of language; not everybody has an RP accent. I went to school in inner London where if you didn't speak with a cockney accent, you were ostracised for being posh. My mum (who is foreign) corrected me when I said "ain't" for example, but for the rest left me alone.

My parents spoke RP and that is my natural accent but I find I normally change my accent if speaking to someone with a strong "London" accent. DD2 who is 14 also moves from London patois to RP depending on who she is talking to. DH as well changes from his natural Cork to vaguely London as well.

Personally I find accents and different dialects really interesting and attractive. If someone tells me they come from a particular area and they don't have an accent, I feel more judgey to be honest

diabolo Fri 14-Jun-13 13:50:28

It's coz us skool admin staff are well, like, common innit?


If that's the local accent then your DS is more likely to pick it up from the other children than the TAs. Our local accent can sound horrible (to me), but there is a massive range in how the children speak in the area, so I think there is a strong influence from home too.

Bunbaker Fri 14-Jun-13 15:04:37

The only thing I corrected my daughter on was pronouncing the letter H. Her year 3 teacher used to say haitch. We used to keep telling her it was aitch!

Neither OH nor I are from South Yorkshire, but I don't want DD to sound different from everyone else as it just gives other kids a reason to pick on her.

I wasn't bullied at school, but I was teased mercilessly for having a "posh" accent.

JanePlanet Fri 14-Jun-13 15:08:42

Agree that there is a huge difference between regional accent and grammar. However, I have experienced prejudice because of my accent. In the sector I work in my accent can be a bit of an affliction. My partner on the other hand - in his sector his accent is a bonus. Depends how many closed minded prejudiced snobs you work with I guess.

valiumredhead Fri 14-Jun-13 15:12:10

There are at least two errors in your OP so I'd keep very quietwink

cory Fri 14-Jun-13 17:01:12

What is wrong with your ds growing up bi-dialectal? Or do you suspect he might not have the intellectual capacity? wink

Ime most people who need to do so are perfectly capable of switching between different accents if they have been brought up with the linguistic awareness and flexibility to do so.

cory Fri 14-Jun-13 17:02:04

And for the record, some dialects do also have grammatical deviations from standard English, not just phonetical. In some English dialects "were" is used to denote the past regardless of person (I were, you were), in other dialects "was" fills the same function. "Thou" and "thee" survived (and possibly still survive) in some northern dialects after they were replaced by "you" in standard English. Would you say "tha" for "you" is grammatically incorrect? And if so, when did it become grammatically incorrect?

What we regard as correct grammar today is simply one dialectal form that has become dominant.

thornrose Fri 14-Jun-13 21:26:45

This attitude towards TAs is infuriating! I'm genuinely shocked. I may be paid peanuts but that doesn't mean I'm poorly educated and use incorrect grammar.

Why do you think TAs are more likely to use the dreaded "we was, you was?" no TA in my school ever says that. confused

TAs come from all walks of life, 2 at my school are actually qualified teachers, 2 are studying to become teachers. One is an ex nurse, one is an ex radiographer. They are all dedicated professionals! Why do people have such a low opinion of them?

Vietnammark Sat 15-Jun-13 12:15:08

Unfortunately my 5.5 year old son goes to an American curriculum school and he has an American teacher. She is a good teacher, but can't use the present perfect to save her life. My son doesn't seem to be picking up the pp and I am getting worried. Is it normal for a bright 5.5 year old in the UK to not be using the pp yet?

Farewelltoarms Sat 15-Jun-13 16:09:06

I'm not saying TAs all use bad grammar - I'm saying that the ones in my kids' school do. They are on the whole older local women who are bloody brilliant at their jobs. But highly educated with rp they are not...

I'm a northerner, teaching further south. I say flat /a/ sounds, while my pupils' parents all say longer /ar/ sounds. Would you complain about me too if your DC said "path" rather than "parth" sometimes?

soapboxqueen Sun 16-Jun-13 10:07:12

As other pp have said there are regional variations in both pronunciation and grammar. It is not wrong just different. The English language has always been and probably always be, an ever evolving language.

I'm a Geordie and it really annoys me that people think that whole regions of our country are speaking their own language incorrectly. It's pure snobbery. You can't be an intelligent and worthwhile person if you use the language of the area you were born in.

I don't think it is a bad thing for children to recognize the difference between their home dialect and standard English. Yes people do make judgements on how we speak but it is just another prejudice that should not be encouraged or accepted.

Pyrrah Mon 17-Jun-13 16:14:18

DD has picked up the local accent and it's truly awful. I did have a quiet word with her teacher about feeling free to correct DD's impression that the letter 't' is supposed to be silent.

The teacher (who had a very strong Scots accent) agreed with me and does pull DD (and the other children )up on it - not that it does much good.

I think most children eventually become good at using more than one accent - as long as she speaks fluent RP eventually then I will be happy. I currently put more effort into getting rid of the use of 'toilet' and 'pardon' at the moment.

ZolaBuddleia Mon 17-Jun-13 16:43:44

I can never retain the MN rules for 'toilet' and 'pardon', what are we supposed to say again? grin

Bunbaker Mon 17-Jun-13 16:46:12

"I currently put more effort into getting rid of the use of 'toilet' and 'pardon' at the moment."

I don't get why those two words are considered non u. I had, I suppose, a fairly upper middle class upbringing and those words were in common use and not considered unmentionable. I was taught that to say "what" instead of "pardon" was rude.
If the word toilet is so bad why are public toilets called toilets and not something else?

I correct my children at home...being half Irish and having been born in Leeds I decided some time ago that RP was probably the way to go (mid teens I think).

DS2 in particular seems to think Sarf London is where he wants to be. I don't get too stressed about it.

I appreciate the idea that regional accents should be respected. Does this also count for the variations in the home counties though? Or is it acceptable to consider RP to be the regional accent - which a good proportion of the local population have, but often they aren't locally born and bred?

Our local accent (of a significant proportion of people who have grown up locally) sounds a bit Eastenders/estuary, lots of dropped letters and phrases that sound grammatically wrong to me.

Obviously it is up to people how they speak, but is it reasonable to hope that my DD doesn't speak like that and also to ensure that she writes standard English?

JohnnyUtah Mon 17-Jun-13 19:13:24

I wouldn't worry OP, ime kids always sound pretty much like their parents, not their school friends. Unless they are actually at school, which is fair enough really.

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 09:22:43

Breatheslowly, there is no reason why your dd can't be bi-dialectal and speak both standard English and the local dialect. A positive attitude towards languages in general and a habit of discussing language and speech in a non-judgmental way is very helpful ime. Gives them less to rebel about.

cory Tue 18-Jun-13 09:23:57

In many parts of Europe, it is the norm for people to speak different dialects on different occasions: e.g. standard Italian at work and the local Italian dialect at home.

Pyrrah Tue 18-Jun-13 10:25:49

I fully admit that my hatred of the words 'toilet' and 'pardon' are due to my upbringing. Historically I believe the issue is to do with the substituting of plain English terms with French terms in an attempt to appear gentile.

Not sure what the MN rules are, but I use 'loo' and 'sorry' or 'what', or even 'I beg your pardon' instead of 'pardon'.

My grandmother used to shudder over her grandchildren saying 'mirror' instead of 'looking glass'. shock

Not all public conveniences are called 'public toilets'. I used to sit on a planning committee where we dealt with a lot of them and there were a range of names used. If you go into museums or restaurants there are also a wide variety - bathroom, ladies/gents, restrooms, lavatories and so on.

JohnnyUtah Tue 18-Jun-13 16:44:33

I don't think you meant gentile, Pyrrah! Maybe genteel grin

Elibean Tue 18-Jun-13 19:36:06

I have two dds in a SW London primary. IME, Reception age children start trying on different accents, ways of talking, mannerisms.....it peaks in Y1 (my dd2 currently speaks perfect 'posh foreigner' like her BF, immaculate Sarf London like her best male friend, and RP like her parents - but with a slight lisp - at home).

dd1 is now in Y4 and has pretty much stopped copying anyone, settling down to RP with occasional South Londonisms.

I don't worry. I do correct pronounciations that are likely to mess with dd2's spelling ability eg 'f' instead of 'th'

And I remember clearly how well I spoke 'Canadian' English within a week of starting school in Montreal aged 8. It lasted the time we lived there (four months) then disappeared. smile

GoSuckEggs Tue 18-Jun-13 19:44:59

if it is any help to you.... i grew up on a rough council estate, everyone speaks how you described above. 'aints' and 'innits' everywhere. My dad was obsessive about speaking properly, always correcting me. Now everyone comments on how 'posh' i speak! i am not speaking 'posh' at all - just properly!

So keep on correcting your DC and i am sure they will be fine!

Pyrrah Wed 19-Jun-13 16:40:15

Ooops! Love auto correct... blush

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