I used to correct it by saying, “Wow, you have three turtles at home? I only have one cat at home. What else do you have at home?” Sometimes they would pick up the correction and automatically model the correct language, sometimes they would make adjustments that would be more correct. Sometimes I would have to give more examples to get the desired syntax, but I always did it masked as clarifying for more information rather than simply telling them the correct syntax.
But I was told that because I was not outwardly correcting their English, I was not teaching them how to say it the right way. So I began correcting them. “No, it’s 'I have three turtles at home.” Surprisingly, they don’t say “I have three turtle at home” nearly as often…
As a matter of fact, they are speaking less frequently.
Kind of like the sample with “Nobody don’t like me.” Instead of asking about the content, I have been asked to instead focus on correcting the grammar and totally missed a chance to communicate. Putting more emphasis on accuracy than on fluency.
Anyway, I have a hypothesis that the brain can only hold so much language in it and when it reaches its limit, then new words begin replacing old ones. I think this is why someone who is multilingual may be able to speak each language fluently, but will not be able to speak any one language at the same level as someone who is monolingual in one of those languages. I also think that this area develops the most during the early part of life which is why it becomes very hard for people who don’t have a lot of education to be able to pick up a new language…they haven’t had their language areas stretched out enough to make room for new words and grammar rules. It kind of piggy-backs off Chomsky’s language acquisition device (a term and theory which I really don’t care for) but gives some explanation for why bilingual children are not really exceptional in either language they speak and why words fade and mix as we learn new languages.
When I begin grad school in applied linguistics, I may use this as the subject of my thesis/dissertation.
It’s also interesting to see how this could apply to hearing and speech deficient children. I wish I had time to have at least minored in hearing and speech sciences. What little I had time to be exposed to was fascinating and it ties into my linguistics studies although I am more interested in psycholinguistics than neurolinguistics.