Once long ago, in haste and to deadline, I mistakenly substituted “y” (Spanish for “and”) – for each and every “et” (French for “and”) in an essay submitted to my Grade 11 French teacher. I was taking Spanish as well, and no doubt also had an assignment pending in that course.
What might have happened: a large red D at the top of the paper, with one or two of the offending “y’s” circled in red.
What did happen: each and every offending “y” (one uses “and” a lot, you know) on the first page circled in red, with red lines leading to the top of the page where I read “Vous n’avez jamais entendu l’expression: ‘Elle parle le français comme une vache espagnole.’ ?” Translation: “Have you never heard the expression: ‘She speaks French like a Spanish cow’?” I was also asked to correct the piece and resubmit it.
Is what did happen, formative assessment? It was cogent feedback which impacted my learning profoundly… sort of a pedagogical slap upside the head. I was insulted – maybe even a little hurt – but I got it. My teacher knew I had been sloppy and told me so by meticulously circling all those “y’s” She gave me a chance to redeem myself and in doing so, sent the message that she knew I was capable of better.
Ever after, I checked my work far more closely and consequently learned the importance of accuracy in writing in English, Spanish or French. Oh, I still make errors but not nearly as many as I might, thanks to Mrs. Gordon and that stinging comment.