I began teaching in junior high schools late October last year, in the middle of the Japanese academic year, so I didn’t really take a close look at lessons that were conducted in the past. Also, I do not have the privilege of getting a copy of students’ workbooks (because I don’t need it actually) so I don’t know much about the content either but the one time I got a peek of the book while students were doing it in class, a pretty noticeable mistake jumped right at me.
If your school is using the textbook New Horizon, you may want to take note of this. In the second grade students’ workbook, on the Unit5 topic using so and because (I think it’s on page 90 of the workbook), one question reads:
He was hungry. He wanted to eat much food.
And the answer in the teacher’s copy reads:
He was hungry, so he wanted to eat much food.
Whether this obeys prescriptive grammar rules or not is of little concern. It is definitely unnatural to say the sentence above so I brought this up to one of the teachers today in the teachers’ office. A more natural sentence would be:
He was hungry, so he wanted to eat a lot of food.
Another book which I do not have as well is the listening practice book. Today, when I was asked to read the Q&A questions of a passage called Family Rules in Unit6 of the third grade students’ listening book (I think it’s on page 105), another problematic sentence popped up. It reads:
What did Japanese parents used to do to their children for discipline?
As the teacher got the students to answer the question as well as reproduce the question, he inevitably had to explain the grammatical construction which appeared to disobey the rule that they have learnt, so I had to let him know so that students do not learn the wrong thing.
The fact is, a lot of native English speakers make the same mistake above because when phonetically transcripted, “use to” and “used to” are essentially the same, so native speakers may not realise the difference. It is thus important to remember, when the auxiliary verb “do” has taken the Past Tense, the main verb should be in its Simple Present Tense.