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Preach it, Weird Al!  Why English Teachers Love "Word Crimes"

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Jul 29, 2014 6:34:03 AM

If you are an English teacher and participate in any social media, I'm sure that you have seen Weird Al's new viral video, "Word Crimes."  If you haven't seen it, you really must watch it.  Let's be honest, even those of us who have seen it several times will probably click to watch it again!

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Word Crimes

So what is it about this video that resonates so deeply with English teachers and everyone else for that matter? I'll break down my love of this song below:

  • We are not alone! Too many times, students think that English teachers are the only ones who actually care about proper grammar. Weird Al has made it cool for celebrities, family members, bloggers, and everyone else in society to jump on the grammar bandwagon by sharing this video.  I hope this fun little parody sends a serious message to young people to listen up in our classes!
  • Online writing counts! Weird Al points to blogs, social media, hashtags, and other online writing with the message that spelling and syntax matter even on the Internet.
  • He fits in all my pet peeves! I love the whole song, but these four drive me up the wall:
    • I could care less.  When I hear students say this, I always want to retort, "Well, you certainly could care more about your correct use of idiom" or some other snarky remark.
    • Quotation Marks for "emphasis".  When I see this happening in my classes, I love to bring up this website for a couple minutes: https://www.pinterest.com/haceldama/unnecessary-quotation-marks/.  It gets a few laughs and brings the point home.  (Tip: Always preview the page before bringing it up in class.  Some examples are not safe for all schools.)
    • Literally.  This one is everywhere in my school: I literally have a ton of homework; my head literally exploded; I literally can't even.  Sometimes I have to forcibly control my eye rolls.
    • Your and You're, There, Their, and They're, Its and It's.  This shouldn't be a problem in high school, but it is.  I'm thinking about making big posters for the front of my room this year, so I will let you know how that goes.
  • He uses Proper Terminology. The English class lingo is often discounted as boring and irrelevant, but he breathes new life into terms like contraction, preposition, dangling participles, and oxford comma.  I never thought I would say this, but thank you, Weird Al!

Did you love this video as much as I did?  What are your word crime pet peeves?

Topics: Fun Stuff, grammar

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