Nearly half of California State University students, who typically come in with a 3.2 (B) grade point average, must take remedial English; 37 percent require remedial math. How remedial? The Sacramento Bee looks at a class for college freshmen.
Two Sacramento State freshmen scrutinize the sentence projected on the classroom wall, hunting for mistakes: “There over their with they’re friends.”
The students are in a race to find the errors and rewrite the line correctly on a chalkboard. Each of them writes, erases, rewrites, erases and writes again. Their classmates watch and whisper answers.
After several minutes, one has it. He rearranges there, their and they’re and slams down his chalk.
He’s won the final round of Elaine McCollom’s grammar game designed to help these students — all of them native Spanish speakers — sharpen their English writing skills and grammar and prepare them for college-level work.
If distinguishing between there, they’re and their is a challenge, they’re a long way from college-level English. What’s worse is that most CSU students in remedial English are native English speakers who earned B’s in high school.