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    (Original post by the_alba)
    I remember last year in a staff meeting one of his colleagues pausing to say, with utmost gravitas, 'We are now about to award an English degree to a student we all consider to be functionally illiterate'.
    Absolutely terrific.
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    (Original post by sugar-pie)
    Every time the government tries to change the education system they screw it up a little more.
    To be fair, those ex-hippy modernists infect every aspect of public life to this day. I recall being at a meeting of the Board of Governors at one of my schools, recording the events for posterity in the school newspaper, when a couple of complete ********s made passionate speeches about doing away with blazers and the school's latin motto because they were "elitist".

    It's these very same idiots who end up ruining everything for everybody. Luckily they're dying out.
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    It's a joke that students cannot use punctuation correctly. You don't need to be taught it - just look things up, if in doubt! Those mistakes quoted in the paper were from Imperial students' work . . .
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    As others above, we weren't taught spelling or grammar at school. And we're a grammar school!

    But it's not just spelling, grammar and punctuation: it's vocabulary too. I did an informal little survey last year, and over half of students asked had no idea what "belligerent" or "superfluous" meant. And even fewer people could label Germany on a world map. This generation's general knowledge is appalling.

    And don't get me started on "was" and "were". It's "if I were you", not "If I was". Grr.

    Regards,
    CP
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    I don't think the fault is on the schools' part. Schools that teach in the English medium assume that all students know grammar and punctuation (and basic vocabulary) from speaking the language at home and elsewhere. (Apart from the few people who do ESL and stuff of course).

    If in fact the students don't know grammar, then it is on this generation's culture that bame must be apportioned. If everyone around you uses txtspk and txtgrmmr, and the highest level of literature that you've read is Dan Brown, it's inevitable that your literacy is going to be suspect.
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    I'm not entirely convinced that schools should assume that you can pick up grammar and spelling exclusively from reading. I read a fair bit (for a scientist at least) and even more so at school, but learnt the vast majority of my grammar from Latin and Greek (yes, we were a little posh, but not much).
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    (Original post by sabby ohh)
    I don't care. Some of the World's most brilliant/intelligent/creative/interesting people couldn't/can't spell well. I don't think spelling/grammar is a total indication of a person's intelligence. I would rather read something imaginative, insightful and interesting even if it had a few spelling mistakes than something boring in grammatically perfect english. Although you could always use a dictionary.
    Err.. I don't think that can be an excuse. Yes it's not a total measure of intelligence, but it is the ability to present your intelligence.

    Doesn't everyone cringe if they see sentences like the ones OP posted?
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    When it comes to writing skills, I look out for the use of more appropriate vocabulary rather than technical spelling mistakes.

    It's comparable to a math teacher grading a long problem -- they're not so harsh if you make a minor arithmetic mistake, they care about the method behind it.
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    (Original post by Kyle_S-C)
    Surely poor handwriting (like mine) is more of an obstacle to lecturers than poor spelling and grammar, it's merely a less respectable target because some pedants can't write properly either. I'm not saying that it's fine for standards of spelling and grammar to slip, but perhaps teaching people to write legibly is equally important?
    Everything is mostly done on computer nowadays and all documents that do require any handwriting likes to have it done in BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS. This is therefore invaluable for the years of signing on the dole after I graduate.

    The only handwritten work I ever do, is in Japanese - which of course, is an entirely different discipline and script.

    Perhaps our current Xbox generation just isn't reading enough. That's where you should be picking up things like grammar and writing technique. You can only teach someone to an initial point.
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    (Original post by korektphool)
    I don't think the fault is on the schools' part. Schools that teach in the English medium assume that all students know grammar and punctuation (and basic vocabulary) from speaking the language at home and elsewhere. (Apart from the few people who do ESL and stuff of course).
    I think it's a mistake to assume people know grammar from speaking the language at home. We do have an internal grammar which usually gives us a feel for what's right, but we don't know those rules, we can only apply them, and they are usually rules based on what we learnt to speak, not formal English. Without actually learning grammar formally, we can't analyse a sentence and decide what something should be in cases where our internal grammar doesn't work. It's fairly common to say a sentence with a structure like "me and my friend saw something", and sometimes people know that, formally, it should be "my friend and I saw something", but then, without any proper understanding of grammar, people extrapolate that case and say something like "she saw you and I". You also can't learn punctuation just from speaking at home, unless people talk a bit like telegrams stop

    (Original post by sugar-pie)
    We learn more about english in german lessons than in english.
    We did too. It reminds me that there's a series of books called "English grammar for students of insert language here" which explains how English grammar works and how the same ideas work in the other language, I think they're ace.

    (Original post by Kyle_S-C)
    Surely poor handwriting (like mine) is more of an obstacle to lecturers than poor spelling and grammar, it's merely a less respectable target because some pedants can't write properly either. I'm not saying that it's fine for standards of spelling and grammar to slip, but perhaps teaching people to write legibly is equally important?
    Well, I think to some extent handwriting depends on the person, and some people just naturally have harder to read writing. I didn't like the system when I was learning to join my letters though. We were made to write the letters in a specific way and style and I think that hinders people who don't naturally have that style. For example, I joined all letters, but in school we weren't supposed to join "g" or "y" or any other letters with tails, and trying not to join them only made it harder because I had to work against my natural style, which was perfectly legible anyway. As soon as we stopped doing that, I went straight back to joining them and I've never had a problem with people understanding what I've written, so it was completely pointless to try and make me not do it.
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    Reading isn't all there is to it. Often the way we read things is by skimming anyway. If we're in a hurry, spelling mistakes don't particularly slow down our comprehension of a text. I'd say that the way to improve spelling is through spelling drills and such things, painful though they are to endure. We don't focus on letters and their order in words when we read, but the meaning of the whole word. Onomatopoeia is a prime example (plus I like it )...it's long and awkward, but you pretty much skim over it as soon as you're past onomat, since you know what's coming anyway and you have more to read. However, you do pick up vocabulary from reading.
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    People would spell words better if they read books more. That is a fact. It's frustrating now, to think of all the time they wasted on "teaching" me spelling, grammar etc. . I've only ever had to read about 10 books throughout my life for school, but my spelling is really good because of reading, because i read stuff outside of school.
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    BTW, Oxford students screwing up on spelling??? And English Oxford students aswell :rolleyes:
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    You know, I don't think it's possible to teach English grammar. I consider myself an above average writer, but when I attempt to understand the formal elements of grammar I often just boggle at it. It's harder to understand the theory than it is to use it, so I'm not sure that it'd be time well spent to attempt teaching it. It's even worse for spelling -- there are far too many exceptions for it to be something that's worth teaching, imo. Beyond common mistakes it'd just be emptying an ocean with a bucket.

    I think the examples in the Guardian article are, as has been pointed out, most likely to be carelessness. I know perfectly well how to spell "neutral", but I bet that if I were hand-writing it I might well spell it "nuetral" because my handwriting isn't particularly good. It wouldn't jump out of the page as an error because it's not so clear a mistake as it is on a computer screen. I'm sure I'm not alone in often having to go to the side of a page and carefully printing a word to check I've spelled it correctly.
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    Just because we have a diverse and awkward language doesn't mean it's impossible to teach our grammar and spelling, we've compiled dictionaries and comprehensive guides to English grammar. Despite that, it is more important that it is easily possible to improve current standards of grammar and spelling above that which most people exhibit.

    I would also contend that reading, whilst very beneficial, doesn't provide the benefits described above. When one reads "The children's mother sat down and read them their favourite bedtime story.", one doesn't think "Ahh, that usage of their/there/they're is the one which corresponds to the third person plural possessive pronoun.", the context provides meaning. In fact, if they were used erroneously, it would only be obvious to somebody who was already aware of the correct usage of there, their and they're. Another example is the usage of less/fewer, which wasn't clarified to me, despite my wide reading, until I had an argument with some friends about it (yes, we had very exciting lives...) and we went to find out. Whilst the majority of people aren't so sad as to bother looking up something like that, if people were taught in schools at some point in their education that fewer was used in reference to plurals and less in reference to singulars, it would make things so much easier.

    Apologies for being argumentative, I just watched "A Few Good Men". Hopefully nobody will take me too seriously...
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    (Original post by sabby ohh)
    Not really. I know that not everyone has a great grasp on english grammar/spelling and I wouldn't automatically think, 'wow, they're stupid' if I saw a sentence with a couple of mistakes. As long as I can understand what they are trying to communicate, I don't really care.
    On the other hand, many people and, more importantly, employers, do care.

    When representing their company in the big, wide world they expect their employees to write a good style of English with attention to the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation. Those that don't or can't are severely disadvantaged. Reports, presentations, proposals, CVs, letters - even pure scientists have to write them in the world of employment.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    On the other hand, many people and, more importantly, employers, do care.

    When representing their company in the big, wide world they expect their employees to write a good style of English with attention to the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation. Those that don't or can't are severely disadvantaged. Reports, presentations, proposals, CVs, letters - even pure scientists have to write them in the world of employment.
    Well, it depends on what level and who you work for. Not very many people (and I most definitely don't include myself in this) can use correct punctuation in its entirity. From what I read, many journalists can't and advertising execs take gross liberties all the time. Btw, us pure scientists do have to write in english you know (not binary as some people think!).
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    So... Oxford comma - yey or nay?
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    (Original post by sabby ohh)
    Not really. I know that not everyone has a great grasp on english grammar/spelling and I wouldn't automatically think, 'wow, they're stupid' if I saw a sentence with a couple of mistakes. As long as I can understand what they are trying to communicate, I don't really care.
    So you wouldn't care that the person who wrote the piece of work (potentially someone you were considering employing) was too lazy to even pick up a dictionary? Wow. I would.

    I never cease to be amazed at the mistakes that people make. Perhaps the worst one is when teachers can't even spell specialist vocabulary for their subject (e.g. I would expect a maths teacher to be able to spell 'trigonometry', a PE teacher to be able to spell 'muscle' etc even if their spelling is rubbish the rest of the time, and I would certainly expect all teachers to have correct spelling and grammar in written reports). I would also expect ALL English and foreign language teachers to be able to spell correctly as they have permanent effects on the spelling, punctuation and grammar used by their pupils.

    *sigh* Pedants Anonymous thread, anyone?
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    It's the overuse and normally incorrect use of an apostraphe that winds me up!
 
 
 
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