The syntax sentinel
In Toastbusters we have two roles (Word Master and Grammarian) presented by one person.
Time: 1 - 2 minutes for introduction, 4 minutes for the report.
One benefit of Toastmasters is that it helps people improve their grammar and word use. As a grammarian, you have several responsibilities: to introduce new words to members, to comment on language usage during the course of the meeting and to provide examples of eloquence.
As a Word Master, you need to select a "Word of the Day". This word can be coordinated with the Toastmaster of the meeting in order for it to relate to the theme for the meeting (if chosen). However, this is not mandatory.
Prepare a sentence as an example of how to use the word including idioms and other interesting examples. Print out the hand-outs so that every member and a potential guest could have it during the meeting (~25-30 copies). If you do not have an opportunity to print the word, you can write it on the blackboard right at the meeting or during the introduction.
Before the meeting, check the agenda of the meeting either here or from the Secretary to confirm which members are scheduled program participants.
You’ll also need to prepare a brief explanation of your duties as a grammarian and "Word of the day" presentation. For the benefit of guests and new members, be sure to use the clearest possible language and rehearse your presentation. You will deliver this explanation during your introduction when called to the stage by the Toastmaster.
At the Meeting
Before the meeting begins, put your print-outs with the word of the day on the desks. You can also put a word to a blackboard in order for members to be able to see the word throughout the meeting.
Briefly explain the role of the Grammarian. Then briefly state the purpose of the "Word of the Day" for those guests present and then give word for the day with its additional information. Remind all the members and guests to use this word during the meeting as often as they can.
Throughout the meeting, listen to everyone’s word usage. You will be given a special tally sheet (see PDF icon on the left) for your records. This form is just an example and can be added, if necessary.
Write down any awkward use or misuse of the language (incomplete sentences, sentences that change direction in midstream, incorrect grammar or malapropisms). For example, point out if someone used a singular verb with a plural subject. "One in five children wear glasses" should be "one in five children wears glasses". Note when a pronoun is misused. "No one in the choir sings better than her" should be "No one in the choir sings better than she".
Keep a list and count the members who use the word of the day or a variation of the word, and how many times they were able to include it into their speaking role during the meeting. This includes speakers, evaluators, table topics speakers, etc. Be prepared to present your report near the end of the meeting at General Evaluator’s request.
When called on by the General Evaluator during the evaluation segment:
- Come to the stage and give your report.
- Try to offer the correct usage in every instance of misuse (instead of merely announcing that something was wrong).
- Report on creative language usage.
- Announce who used the word of the day (or a derivative of it) correctly or incorrectly and report of members who were able to integrate the word into their spoken part on the program.