From the Teachers Mailbox

Here are few literary gems from my inbox. These emails were sent to me by some of my students over the few last semesters. I will preface this by saying that the strange linguistic constructs you will see below were produced mostly by A or B students, native speakers of English – who at other times sent me much more coherent and understandable correspondence. Names were naturally removed to protect the innocent.

First one is from my “Subject field does not have spellcheck” category:

Subject: ques tion reguarding hwk

Reguarding kinda reminds me of havening. It’s kinda my new favorite word. Then again, maybe it was a honest typo. I have done much worse in the past (and on this very blog). Still, I can’t help but thing I had the famous George in my class and I didn’t even know it.

Some of my students apparently subscribe to the “punctuation inhibits communication” school of thought:

hello quick question for the hw 2 is it due next class

Careful analysis, tells me that this would have made perfect sense as an IM or a text message. Think about it for a second and the places where one would hit enter will become obvious. It seems that the art of writing email is slowly forgotten by the generation of people who use IM exclusively.

Then again, I wish all the letters I get were this coherent. For example, look at this one (reproduced complete with the weird spacing and etc..):

Hi prof on may 7 at 23:45 after the class I send my hw thru d
        But today today i checked my grades and i didn’t any grades for     it then I check m the file which i
      i send it to u It didn’t’ say that u received it the file.( i don’t know maybe i could submit it rite way or?
   well anyways i am resending it.

I’m not sure what was going on in there, but I guess the gist of this message is that the person is re-submitting their homework because they didn’t see their grade listed in the LMS. It took me a while to figure this out, but the last sentence is the key.

Btw, there is a lesson I have learned over time – if I add a new assignment in the online grade book but do not put the grades right away, I get students trying to re-submit their work thinking it didn’t go through or that I somehow missed it. It’s even better when I add a project that I didn’t assign yet in there. I get few dozen emails with people begging me to email them the instructions because they never got the handout them in class. These days I don’t add anything to the online grade book until I have graded it. :P

Sometimes I just can’t tell what an email is about. I found one like this in my mailbox last semester and I could not figure out how to respond:

Hello, professor….I completed lab was an able to do so at home because i do did not windows 2007. So i completed in the comp. lab on campus.

Did he complete the lab? I think my response went something among the lines of “Thats ok. Let me know if you can’t submit it before the deadline”.

Also, Windows 2007 FTW. When I ask them on the test whether MS Office 2007 is an Operating system, or if Windows XP is Application Software most of them get it right. But they still use Office and Windows interchangeably in common speech.

I actually don’t I mind the odd punctuation, innovative spelling and fragmented sentences. As long as I can make sense of it, I will try to reply to it, or grade it to the best of my ability. Sometimes I wonder how professors with degrees in English cope with this sort of things. :P

[tags]mailbox, mail, correspondence, spelling, grammar, punctuation[/tags]

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13 Responses to From the Teachers Mailbox

  1. Aaron UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Sometimes I wonder how professors with degrees in English cope with this sort of things.

    With a sense of defeat humor and the knowledge that it will make a great war-story at the next convention / department meeting.

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  2. Eli UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Sometimes I wonder how professors with degrees in English cope with this sort of things.

    “See you in my section next term, chump.”

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Aaron – heh. The best thing is when you get a student with no concept of punctuation, can’t do even basic math and complains every time he/she has to learn something new. Then it turns out they are an education major. :P

    [quote post="2384"]“See you in my section next term, chump.”[/quote]

    LOL

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  4. Tino GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    This happens to me as well, so maybe I have gained some skills in interpreting these im-by-email:

    “Hello, professor….I completed lab was an able to do so at home because i do did not windows 2007. So i completed in the comp. lab on campus.”

    I think it means something like this:

    “Dear Professor Maciak, I have completed the lab assignment. However, I was unable to do so at home, because I do not own Ms Office 2007. Instead I had to do the assignment at the computer lab at campus.”

    Why s/he would want to tell you this, I have no idea. Also Ms Office 2007 is just a guess about what “windows 2007″ really means.

    Ps. My first post; great blog. I just wish you’d update /dev/random more often.

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  5. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Someone in my IT GCSE class once said something about Windows 2003 then wondered why the teacher and the students who actually knew stuff (there were about 4 of us) were laughing at him.

    As for

    Hello, professor….I completed lab was an able to do so at home because i do did not windows 2007. So i completed in the comp. lab on campus.

    I’m thinking that “was an able” either means “wasn’t able” or “was unable”, half the time these funky spelling errors sound vaguely like the thing they were aiming for if you say it phonetically.

    So the whole thing would come through to “I completed the lab, was unable to do so at home because I don’t have Office ’07. So I did it on campus”

    But yeah.. god knows what he was on about really :mrgreen:

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Heh, it actually does make more sense now. Still, why would this person feel that it was necessary for me to know *where* they did their assignment. Go figure.

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  7. Tino GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    If you really had a lab that required Office 2007, maybe it was meant as a complaint about that? “Hey, I had even to get into campus to do your annoying assignment!”

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  8. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    [quote post="2384"]I just wish you’d update /dev/random more often.[/quote]

    Btw, me too. I just seem to have less and less time to scour the interwebs for silly pictures. I’ll do my best though. :)

    [quote comment="8716"]If you really had a lab that required Office 2007, maybe it was meant as a complaint about that? “Hey, I had even to get into campus to do your annoying assignment!”[/quote]

    Yeah, probably. The labs do require Office 2007 because that’s what we are teaching them. :P

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  9. Teague UNITED STATES Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Luke, you and I have been down this road before. Insert something about glass houses and heavy, solid objects in motion. ;)

    Back in the early ’90s, I was in college. In the English class I took, we were separated into groups of 4-5. We had to review and grade the papers of the others in our group, and I ended up feeling the same way about some of them as you do about these kids. That was before text messaging, so the ones that had me shaking my head often read like your posts. :D I guess the new habits just make you look good by comparison, eh? ;)

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  10. Tino UNITED STATES Konqueror Linux says:

    [quote post="2384"] The labs do require Office 2007 because that’s what we are teaching them[/quote]

    I hope I am not the only one who finds it scary that a person being trained in Office 2007 refer to it as “Windows 2007″…

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  11. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @Tino – Yeah, it is scary. It is even scarier that on the exam they were able to tell them apart, which tells me they simply memorized the answers, and then promptly forgot them 5 minutes after the exam.

    Oh, btw – I accidentally deleted your post while pruning out comment spam. Sorry about that. I plugged it back in, but the user agent looks different. :P

    @Teague – funny you mention that. My brother actually was kicked out politely asked by the instructor to drop his creative writing class because he was being “to honest” when “reviewing” stories written by his peers. Apparently his review made someone cry, so he ended up with a WP and had to retake the class next semester. At that point he decided all his reviews will look like “great job, I really enjoyed reading it” :P

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  12. Deoxy UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Sometimes I wonder how professors with degrees in English cope with this sort of things.

    I make fun of English teachers for how anal they are about stuff, and I hate this crap. I can only imagine how they feel.

    “See you in my section next term, chump.”

    That’s exactly how I would deal with it, no matter what subject I was teaching. (OK, I probably wouldn’t actually call them “chump”, and I probably wouldn’t expect to see them in my next section, as they would presumably avoid me like the plague, but I would fail them if they didn’t shape up right quick.)

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  13. Ben UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I realize this is a fairly old post, but I just found it and couldn’t resist commenting.

    Sometimes I wonder how professors with degrees in English cope with this sort of things.

    I’m not a professor, let alone an English professor; I’m a student. However, I know exactly how I would deal with the issue: At the beginning of the year, I would state that any communication with me has the potential to affect your grade. If you send me an email which shows you have only the most basic grasp of the language, your grade will be reduced to reflect that.

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