The Chinese students here can be effusive with their praise.
Like the student who last week emailed the faculty: “Dear my teacher … Today is the Teachers’ Day. Happy Teachers’ Day! Please allow me to acknowledge my great thanks to you for your hard work. I hope I can be the first student to say ‘Happy Teachers’ Day’ to you.” (He was the first, in fact.)
The students can also be effusive with their apologies.
During my Week One lecture, I’d unveiled a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding spelling errors. I know English is the second or third language for my students. But just as I’ve told students in New York, Central Europe and elsewhere, in this day and age – with built-in spell-check – there’s no good excuse for an aspiring journalist to turn in typo-ridden work.
It’s a question of professionalism. What kind of impression would it make on an editor if you miss such easy-to-catch mistakes? Pick your poison: lazy, careless, unprofessional, lack of self-respect for your own byline. An editor’s job is to improve your copy, not clean up the mess.
Therefore, before you hit “send,” take FIVE more minutes to a) spell-check; and b) read the piece aloud, further improve the language and submit it in the best possible condition.
Today, one student emailed me to say, among other things: “Hi, Michael. My name is XXX XXX. I come form Shandong Province, east China. I’m your student … and I like you. Especailly you making faces … Have a nice day, sir.”
Twelve minutes later, a second email from her: “I just realized that I forgot to spell check my E-mail before I sent it out. I checked and find two mis-spellings: ‘from’, as in ‘I come from Shandong’; and ‘especially’ as in ‘especially you making faces’. I know, it is unforgivable, and you have every reason to think that I’m irresponsible, disrespectful, lazy, and incompetent. I just want to apologize and promise this would never happen again. I promise. And I’m so sorry.”
Unforgivable? Quite the contrary, I wrote back: I’m gratified to see my message hit home.