What I Hated the Least Today 83/365: Marking

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I hate the work of marking students’ tests almost the least. It’s not even a workβ€”it’s just more or less mindless checking or crossing out as appropriate. If I had a trained monkey, I’d assign it on the job. Alas, I only have an untrained cat. On the upside, I will never cease to be amused at what some English learners come up with. Here’s a random assortment of what I’ve come across so far.

23 thoughts on “What I Hated the Least Today 83/365: Marking

  1. After sighing, do you have a giggle about it all?
    I used to be a drama performance marker and we had to treat each student with respect and decorum which we did. But after as we drove away, we did have many a laugh at the things we had to mark…..we also saw things that took our breath away……have a good Easter..

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    1. I didn’t emphasise in my post that of course in class I treat my students with respect, no matter how silly mistakes they make. But I feel I’m entitled to have some fun after class when marking their tests πŸ˜‰ I find it both tragic and hilarious. Have a great marking-free Easter!

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    1. Exactly. When I started teaching, I couldn’t wrap my mind around it how poor some students’ English was. It’s English majors for god’s sake, they are taught their courses in English, so they are expected to be proficient in English.

      After a few years, I realised that it was somehow a fact of life and stopped worrying about it – too much. I keep on wondering only occasionally now how come these students got through the entrance exams and I dread that they’ll be getting their diplomas.

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  2. If these students don’t have english as a primary language, I’m still giving them top marks in my books! My knowledge of another language is virtually non-existent so I’m in awe of anyone who tries.

    … but yes, making dead ends meet is worth a giggle πŸ˜€

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    1. I giggled the most precisely at making dead ends meet. It was unfortunate because I was marking this test while invigilating another class writing a test.

      Normally, I wouldn’t even think of laughing at anyone who makes the attempt to learn a second language. The trouble is that these are university students who major in English. They are taught their courses in English. I would expect only those with a great command of English would be accepted to study. For others, there is a number of other courses to study in their native tongue, so no need to choose English unless you really want it.

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      1. Just like parents who can’t help but dissolve into laughter at some of the things that come out of their kids’ mouths. One of my favourites was a niece who called grapes *gippers*.

        I thought afterwards how odd it was that someone would choose to major in a language that they didn’t know.

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  3. I can’t laugh too much since my ability in other languages is restricted to greetings, asking directions, and ordering food. You have, however, taken me back to my teaching days and the weird answers I used to stumble upon. I also frequently remember explaining that I couldn’t award marks for anything I couldn’t read.

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    1. Feel free to laugh nevertheless. One would expect that the students will have sense enough not to enroll in English as a major when they can’t put together a sensible sentence in English.

      I tried to impress on the students that they should write in their best handwriting. Apparently, in some cases I failed. I get it that it’s hard but from my perspective, I can’t *make* myself read something that I just can’t read.

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      1. I would always tell my students that, if they wrote too scrappily or too small that it became difficult to read, it would be unlikely that an external examiner would waste their time trying to decipher it and, therefore, I was taking much the same line so that they learned that effective communication requires legible handwriting as well as grammar and vocabulary.

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        1. Hm, I’m not sure if I can threaten the students with an external examiner because I am in a way an external examiner πŸ˜‰ But I had to downgrade several tests in this batch because I couldn’t read what they said, try as I might.

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    1. The ingenuousness of students is amazing and never ending. I never cease to be surprised at what they come up with. One would think that there are only so many options to say or write something wrong, apparently, it’s inexhaustible.

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  4. I like to collect more shocking examples of errors made by English teachers. My favorite was a test set by a teacher at a prestigious private school, in which the learners had to turn a long list of adjectives into adverbs by adding -ly. This tedious and uninstructive task was enlivened only by the fact that one of the words given was ‘ear’ and the ‘correct’ answer ‘early’!

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    1. That’s tragicomic! I wonder how many students would get this test wrong. I’m sure there must have been some! Because come on, ear – early? That would confuse me like nothing.

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      1. There was a time, back in the 1990s, when the English tests used for university entrance exams in Brazil were so badly designed that you would fail if you answered all the questions correctly. We had to teach the candidates to try to imagine what the examiner thinks the correct answer is. Fortunately, the situation has improved somewhat now, in part because I now produce some of these tests. myself.

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        1. I think I can see what you mean. Tests are extremely difficult to devise and in the tests that I’ve been marking now, I often thought how badly the questions were put. You could answer correctly but the answer could still be wrong. I might come to you for advice, should I, god forbid, be forced to devise some tests as well πŸ™‚

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