Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe highlights a University lecturer’s argument for abandoning the rules of spelling by noting how distracting it must be to mark a paper that contains numerous errors. I have assessed hundreds of assignments (exam and word processed) this year alone, and a lack of attention to accurate spelling is a real barrier to communication.
Of course, if someone writes “arguement” instead of “argument”, it is still possible to understand the content. But suggesting that students’ lack of grammatical and spelling knowledge (or willingness to learn) should be tolerated is not fair on them.
It is insulting to insinuate students are incapable of learning to write accurately. Given this attitude, why bother with schools, unless they are just a holding pen whilst parents are busy with jobs or other commitments.
Accepting poor spelling from students also means accepting lower standards outside of education. At present, the reputation of an organisation is adversely affected when its websites, press releases, letters, signage and so forth are littered with errors.
In public relations, language is a tool of our trade and I actually believe a zero tolerance to bad spelling should be adopted as a way of really focusing students’ minds on its importance.
Corporate speak (epitomised by David Brent) and inaccuracy in grammar are invading the language. Even BBC journalists seems incapable of understanding that an organisation is a single entity when they state “the government are” instead of “the government is”. One of my many pet hates.
I accept that many people have dyslexia and other problems with language, but my experience is that as students these guys usually take greater care in the work they submit.
Ken Smith, of New Bucks University, who made the suggestion of abandoning the rules may have been deliberately stirring up debate. But when confronted by poor grammar, I find myself shouting “i before e, except after c” and other simple rules that I was taught several decades ago. Indeed, I remind all my students of the difference between its and it’s because I cannot stand to see them get this wrong. [See The University of Buckingham writing guide]
It is shocking to realise that tens of thousands of young people leave school without basic literacy skills. A recent Channel 4 show claimed over five million British adults have a reading age of 12 or less. Simply accepting poor spelling from those who master sufficient English to get to University isn’t the answer to low literacy levels.
Former teacher, Phil Beadle, epitomises a love for language, and the benefits it delivers, not least to adult learners who have been the victims of a laissez faire (let do) attitude to English in schools.
I believe we need to encourage students to read good writing , teach them the basic rules and challenge their errors rather than accept them.
Let’s be proud of the English language, embrace its rules and idiosyncrasies and be passionate about communicating accurately and with a joy for words, their meaning and spelling.