English Lesson: “How’s it going?”

English Lesson: “How’s it going?”

When I’m training clients in English speaking, I try to make a conscious effort to point out mistakes their American friends won’t. Allow me to clarify because I know that concept sounds really basic.

In my first year of teaching, I had to learn the hard way that “proper and just” really isn’t the most effective way to teach. For me I had this notion that all the stuff I learned about speech communication as a senior could be passed on to the Japanese high school students I was teaching.

Hah!

Eventually maybe, but definitely not right off the bat. It doesn’t matter how effective a principle is supposed to be, you have to consider the starting point of the individual. The Michael Phelps way of swimming laps probably isn’t the best method for your toddler. Some people need to learn to have one less cookie before trying any kind of real diet change. And in the same way, it’s very unlikely that an English learner is going to be capable of delivering any grand speech within their first year.

Adjusting to this progression is difficult for the learner, but it’s also difficult for the instructor. How strict should you be on corrections?

“Very strict!” I hear a lot of learners (who don’t mean it) say.

In the classroom, this problem is amplified. A teacher has a syllabus s/he needs to follow. There’s a room full of students to be attentive towards. If you stop for every little thing, you might not ever reach the things on your “to do” list.

When English learners hang out with natives, you might see some of this problem too. The native speaker is going to let the minor mistakes slide as long as s/he can understand the gist. Or, they’re going to be hypercritical and slam down on every little hiccup, which unfortunately stops the two of you from having a conversation. The balance is tricky.

So here’s one of those minor mistakes I see slide all the time: “How’s going?”

No one’s going to get confused as to what you mean, but that is definitely broken English. I hear it. I see it in texts. I’m sure no one’s corrected you on it before, but it should be “How’s it going?”

TL;DR: Stop saying “How’s going?”

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