I scanned the room, looking for a place to help out. At one station, three moms chatted while they arranged the red plates and napkins. At another station, one mom — a young Chinese woman — quietly busied herself with heart-shaped cutouts.
I walked over and asked, “Can I help with anything?”
She glanced up and smiled. Then she motioned to the extra pair of scissors on the table.
I introduced myself as I began cutting out hearts made of construction paper.
“Hi, I’m Denise.”
She hesitated before replying, “I’m Anne.”
We continued to exchange small-talk, but we struggled to understand each other. Anne spoke little English.
Then she asked me, “Before daughter. You work?”
I blithely answered, “Yes, I used to be an English teacher.”
Anne looked back to the paper heart in her hand as a shadow of shame fell across her face. She barely whispered, “I speak bad English.”
I reached out and touched Anne’s shoulder. I whispered back, “I’d say your English is a lot better than my Chinese!”
She laughed with me.
And we’ve since become friends.
Over time, I’ve learned that Anne came to America several years ago when her family arranged her marriage. Her fear of using the English language incorrectly has inhibited her from connecting with other moms at school. Loneliness abides.
I don’t think Anne is alone.
I hear the same hesitation in the blogging world. Women feel drawn to putting words on paper, ink on screen. They long to write and share their lives with others, yet their fear of using incorrect grammar hinders their hearts. They hold back. They worry. They apologize.
Dear friends, may I tell you a secret? There’s a new pedagogy in town.
What does this mean? It means that English professors, these days, are asking something different of their students — something different than what you or I might have experienced in our own English classrooms.
I recently went back to work. Every fall semester, I teach college composition, and I collaborate with other professors. We are of one accord.
We encourage content and clarity over “correctness.”
Please, write. Don’t hold back. Be brave. Put those words out there. Put your heart out there. We long to hear from you.
You have a story. And we want to hear it.
We can worry about commas later.
What is your biggest worry when it comes to writing?
Today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo, taking 5 minutes to write about “brave.”
Writing my life verse: 4 minutes
Writing this post: 7 minutes
Uploading photo and link: 8 minutes
Spending Fridays with you: Priceless