David Crystal on which variety of English to teach

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While preparing a class for tomorrow, I came across this very interesting short video in which David Crystal discusses which variety of English we should teach. Simple yet thought-provoking.

However, at a certain point in the video he seems to make a grammar mistake. Can you try to spot it? When you find it, can you please leave a comment with your opinion as to whether it is indeed a mistake or, if you don’t think so, why?

I’ll edit this post later this week with the answer and my opinion about it.

Hi again!
My opinion – which is nothing but that, an opinion! – is I agree with Emma and Marina. David Crystal is simply pointing out that what happened happened recently, but there still is a clear effect on the present (hence Present Perfect). I don’t think the specific, finished time in the past in this example makes the use of Present Perfect incorrect. And we’re talking about David Crystal after all! =) (Emma, he’s DAVID CRYSTAL, not just a regular educated native speaker. LOL)

Michael Lewis says that when a grammatical rule has exceptions we should discard the rule, not the exceptions. I believe Mr Lewis exaggerates when he says this, but he undeniably has a point there!


6 thoughts on “David Crystal on which variety of English to teach

    margot said:
    November 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I saw this Higor a couple of weeks ago! Absolutely fascinating and thought-provoking…

      Higor Cavalcante said:
      November 25, 2012 at 2:36 am

      Thanks for the visit, Margot! =)

    Marina Gerlach said:
    November 21, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Mistake: “I’ve heard …yesterday”

    Interesting…it’s one I’ve corrected many times…but in the context of something that happened yesterday but is relevant in the present I would consider it correct.

    It’s not the first time I hear this…

    Another one is “I’m not understanding” which I’ve heard several times…clearly a stative verb with a stative meaning, but being used in the present participle as an action verb…..(nothing to do with this video by the way!) Trying to remember a scene from a movie…maybe from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, not sure.

    I work as a private teacher and don’t have many opportunities to exchange ideas with colleagues, so I enjoy reading your posts…J

      Higor Cavalcante said:
      November 25, 2012 at 2:14 am


      Thank you very much for your comment! I agree with you (as I say in the edited post) and believe we should be wary of simply branding sentences as wrong because grammar books say so.

      Similarly to “I’m not understanding” there is McDonald’s’s infamous “I’m lovin’ it!”

      Thanks for visiting! =)

    yukitheninjacat said:
    November 23, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Hello! Thanks for sharing the video:)

    Re:”..a student comes up to you and says, but please teacher I’ve heard….yesterday” Is it really a mistake or his intention? I feel that this is a way of connecting the target audience with his example. It is something that most teachers hear and the impact would be less if he had altered the statement.
    Another point I considered is that, since this is an interview, he had planned main points and examples however did not write them down in great detail if at all. Proficient users, whether native or non-native, slip up and this is natural with longer stretches of language,unless it is something memorised.

    I could be wrong, looking forward to reading other ideas and your next post.

      Higor Cavalcante said:
      November 25, 2012 at 2:15 am

      I think it’s his intention, Em. I don’t think there’s a mistake there at all! =)

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