Tuesday, August 05, 2008

re: "The Death of English (LOL)"

"Will text messaging produce generations of illiterates? Could this - OMG - be the death of the English language?"

So writes Lily Huang in the latest issue of Newsweek (p.10 for European readers). The UK sends six billion text messages every month, apparently (of which I send a hefty proportion, I must say). While it is true that most people use "textese" contractions, I've managed to avoid it at all costs. The shortest text I'm willing to send is "ok", but I often think that's a waste of the 160~ characters you're allowed per text. So, I usually expand on the message, in full prose.

My response is to Huang's question, though is: It will, but it deserves only half the blame. The rest of the blame rests on the way children are taught in schools. Certainly, this is true for UK schools, but I can't speak for any other countries. One of my former flatmates was doing a PGCE at Durham, and he was doing his marking in the kitchen one day.

I flicked through the stuff he'd marked, and noticed that he hadn't picked up on the rampant misspellings throughout every child's exercise book. When I asked him why he didn't correct their spelling, he said that he was told not to, because it "diminishes the child's momentum", and as a teacher, he's not allowed to tell a student that they've done something wrong.

Funny, I thought that's EXACTLY what a teacher was supposed to do. You know, teach the child how to spell!

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