Fingernails, meet blackboard

Thanksgiving’s over.  Back to aggrieved!  I just graded an essay by a native speaker of English containing this sentence:

The mandatory use of English in school cariculum, forces foreign speaking students to conform to a new language in order to accel in school.

But the weirdly annoying thing about this essay (which was a handwritten, in-class essay, so we need to cut a little slack on the matter of spelling–but yes, they were allowed to use the dictionary!) was that the student kept reaching the end of a line, running out of room, and randomly dividing the word with a hyphen–pretty much anywhere but at the syllable break, unless she was also misspelling the word, in which case the syllable break tended to be accurate.  I can’t imagine where she learned this was OK or why she did so freakin’ much of it:

  • Unfor- tunantly
  • aknowledg- ment
  • adverti- sed
  • citi-  zens  (yes, I know this one is OK, except it came at the end of the page, which is not OK, but I don’t really expect students to know that)
  • overl-  ooked
  • differe-  nt
  • ethnicit-  ies
  • lang- uage
  • Americ- an

I wrote her a note about the general rule of breaking words at the syllable, but had the distinct feeling that it would be spitting into the wind.

(And by the way, this essay topic–on whether America forces new immigrants to give up their cultures–was for an assessment and not of my choosing.  It’s like a freakin’ license to make sweeping generalizations completely unsupported by evidence.)

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