Author Topic: A student’s travails in modular distance learning  (Read 10127 times)

Joe Carillo

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A student’s travails in modular distance learning
« on: March 18, 2021, 11:38:35 AM »
In May last year, in the fifth month of the still unsubdued Covid-19 pandemic, I got a glimpse of the travails that students are facing to get formally educated through modular distance learning. This, of course, is the form of correspondence education or home study that involves little or no face-to-face interaction between students and their teachers.

                IMAGE CREDIT: ILO/MINETTE RIMANDO


My first unsettling glimpse of the problem was this grammar question posted on my Facebook Messenger by a student that I’ll identify only as Jessa A.: “Sir Joe, one of my teachers posted this on his Facebook account: ‘5 ways enrollment procedures.’ Is this grammatically correct? Should’t it be ‘5 way’?”

I replied to Jessa: “The construction ‘5 ways enrollment procedures’ is grammatically incorrect, but ‘5 way enrollment procedures’ is also grammatically incorrect. The correct form is ‘5-way enrollment procedures’ where ‘5’ and ‘way’ are linked by a hyphen to form the compound word ‘5-way.’”

My parsing of the faulty construction is actually simple but looks formidable, so it’s understandable that without face-to-face interaction with her teacher, Jessa couldn’t point out the errors to him and get them rectified on the spot.

For quite a while I didn’t hear again from Jessa for modular distance consultation, but one night in September she was back with this longer request: “Sir, this morning, I saw an FB post about a young boy who is working hard to provide for his family. Because I was touched by his story, I decided to share the post and wrote a caption.”

She then pleaded: “I’m now a bit confused if the caption is free from errors or not. I hope you would help me with this, Sir, since I’m only young and just starting to learn English.”

I reassured Jessa that she did a good job with that caption: “It’s grammatically and structurally perfect, with flawless word choice and syntax.” I just suggested to her a few more expository and stylistic tips for doing photo captions.

I won’t bother in this column to give the details of those tips, for my objective in sharing this experience of mine doing “personalized online modular copyediting” is simply to show what’s lost or missing in formal instruction to learners restricted by Covid-19 to correspondence education at home instead of classroom instruction.

At any rate, that was the last heard from Jessa until I got this notice from my Facebook Messenger app just a few days ago apologizing—not Jessa but Facebook—for having been unable to post this request from her dated August 16, 2020 or almost seven months ago:

“Good day, Sir! Just recently, our school conducted a dry-run on modular distance learning where teachers distributed modules made by the division office. When I was about to do the tasks, I noticed that the module contained some grammatical errors. Here they are [verbatim]:

“1. Read each item carefully, choose the letter of the correct answer and write your answers on your notebook. (Comma splice I think)

“2. What do you think are the characteristics of Filipino are depicted in the given fable?

“3. Are legends be accepted as truth? …

“5. Write a 2-3 sentences explanation on a separate sheet of paper.

“6. What OPM song you have listened which you think can relate the pandemic we are experiencing right now? Explain why you choose that song. Write your answer in a separate sheet.”

Jessa commented: “I also noticed that some Filipinos think that grammar should never be an issue and it is okay to commit some grammatical errors when we speak or when we write considering that we are non-native speakers of English. But I think differently for I would always love to be corrected whenever I commit mistakes.”

I’ll no longer answer that one.

(Next: Getting our history right after 500 years)          March 25, 2021

This essay, 2,037th of the series, appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the Campus Press section of the March 18, 2021 Internet edition of The Manila Times,© 2021 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

Read this article online in The Manila Times:
“A student’s travails in modular distance learning”

To listen to the audio version of this article, click the encircled double triangle logo in its online posting in The Manila Times.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2021, 04:34:44 PM by Joe Carillo »