Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Taking precautions

Type: Anecdote

Read about Rochelle Watson's embarrassing word slip-up.

After drilling my advanced business writing students for weeks on basic rules of punctuation, especially concerning the proper use of the comma, I gave them a punctuation test. I was certain that they would do well on the exam as they had performed well on practice and homework assignments. They also did well with the practice we did together as a class.

Unfortunately, almost every one of my students bombed the exam. It seems they had all gone back to their old method of throwing in punctuation anywhere, any time they thought it was necessary instead of using the rules they had been taught. The next day, the students were eager to find out their exam scores. They too thought they had done well. As they settled into their seats, I passed their tests back to them somberly.

After passing all of their tests back, I went back to the front of the class and waited, giving them a few more moments to absorb the gravity of the situation. Then, after pounding the board, I began what I intended to be a thought provoking, albeit dramatic, tirade: 'Students, you can’t go around just randomly inserting condoms!' It took a few seconds for me to realize why my entire class became hysterical with laughter.

Thank goodness they were older students. Needless to say, it was hard to focus on punctuation that day.

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