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Old 23rd August 2006, 10:16 AM   #21
Marbella
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This is a bit off the Spain track but I don't like to think that standards have dropped in the British education system. I am sure that the vast majority of those that get good A level results work extremely hard but there is something wrong when employers are complaining that graduates are entering the workplace barely able to write an accurate sentence.

When I were a lad we would lose marks for poor spelling and grammar - so you had to learn or score lower marks. If the examiners are too lenient these days then maybe they should be told to toughen up. But then exam performance would drop and the government would be accused of failing on education. The easier Blair makes it for exams to be passed then the easier it is for him to stand up and say that New Labour improved education.

I do look at the work my son does now in science and maths and I think he is a year behind the work I did when I was his age. We did physics, chemistry and biology as separate subjects but he just does 'science'. In chemistry we started with the periodic table and had to learn all the chemical symbols. He's done science for a year and not touched the periodic table yet. I'm not saying that they won't cover the same ground in the end but it does seem easier now. I agree with Gary about the Spanish GCSE, it is so easy it is ridiculous. My son is 12 and he and a few classmates will take the exam next May.

Written communication these days is fast and furious, particularly in business, where many people will get a couple of hundred emails a day to wade through. I try not to do it myself but I think we can make allowances for poor form in business emails - as long as the individual responsible is capable of writing a document that makes logical and grammatical sense. Many cannot do this at all.

Internet messaging, text messaging, even forums like this allow for mistakes as long as people can get the gist of what you are trying to say. You might know the best selling book by Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves (the zero tolerance approach to punctuation): Rod Liddle wrote a kind of protest article against the book without using any punctuation at all. He made his point quite beautifully because it was quite easy to get the gist of his message despite the lack of good form.
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Old 23rd August 2006, 11:24 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marbella
You might know the best selling book by Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves (the zero tolerance approach to punctuation): ...
I thought I knew something about grammar and punctuation till I read this less than complimentary review from "The New Yorker" of Lynne's book.
One phrase however could become NFS's mission statement

"Writing is an instrument that was invented for recording, storing, and communicating. Using the relatively small number of symbols on the keyboard, you can record, store, and communicate a virtually infinite range of information, and encode meanings with virtually any degree of complexity."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marbella
Written communication these days is fast and furious,... ...
Agreed, but a CV should be a bit more leisurely. Judging by those that used to cross my desk there was/is a definite problem. If people read what they have written the most obvious mistakes should leap out at them. That they do not suggests a lack of basic grammar or exposure to good writing. Back to Mr Blair (& many of all political hues before him) I fear.
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Old 23rd August 2006, 12:38 PM   #23
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Well I think Gary made a good point; the communication style here is more conversational. I don't think any of us speaks with the same formal tone we use when drafting professional documents.

I knew someone who loaded the Dragon voice-recognition software package on his laptop and he used to use it to create his work documents. He had to stop because his documents became too informal.
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Old 23rd August 2006, 12:47 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marbella
This is a bit off the Spain track but I don't like to think that standards have dropped in the British education system. I am sure that the vast majority of those that get good A level results work extremely hard but there is something wrong when employers are complaining that graduates are entering the workplace barely able to write an accurate sentence.
GCE O Level was the hardest thing I can remember doing. Eight subjects over two years and sixteen hours of exams - no coursework - at the end. Shit or bust. All the knowledge, all the time. It was a model that suited me. I cant work without a deadline and my best work is always done under pressure. It is also true to say that I didnt truly understand some of the stuff I learnt until I was in my early 20s - but at least it was in there for me to unravel.

Let me also say that I have never been particularly worried whether my kids passed or failed whatever tests. As it happened they by and large passed. Exams are like busses - if you miss one take another. Non of the 14 O levels or the 5 A levels they got beteen them have made a rats arse difference. Daughter works in a bank, she failed O level maths but she can count £1000 worth of fivers in no time at all. son has started a video production company and spent much of his 2 year college course teaching the tutor how to use Maya, he has yet to fully utilise his GCSE in Geography. They are articulate talented people and will get on despite the system. They were never placed under the kind of pressure that some children experience at home.

It is true to say that the kids work as hard and worry as much as we ever did, what has slumped is the level of expectation. As you said it is evident that in Spanish GCE and GCSE are not the same beast by a long chalk. What is expected at the age of 16 is less now than it was. Why? - well, its a question of massaging the figures - sure more people are passing the tests than ever so the headline is good, but if the tests are less rigorous then you would expect that.

I remember when Blunkett said that there would be such and such a percentage of students pass KS2 sats by a certain date. Yoiu could bet the mortgage on it... they set and mark the test then the panel decides what the grade boundaries are. The onset of coursework has also, imho, caused standards to slip. There is no longer the need to have all the knowledge you just learn the bit you need, pass the section, even - dare I say let your Dad do a bit for you and tart up your work before its handed in. Coursework also favours the learning style and mindset of girls who are much more conscientious, coursework would have killed me. Job and finish - move on, is the learning style favoured, it seems by boys.

In previous times only 10% of the poulation in England Wales and NI was deemed to be of a standard that was worthy of Higher Ed. Now its 30%. Has the demographic changed and is our society more intelligent? No, education has become a buisness and the establishments need the throughput of bodies to make ends meet - hence if you are determined enough there will be a university course you can get on without actually passing an A level. At the end of the day, you sign up for the course and pay your tuition fee and if you dont finish the year theyve got your money and the tutor has less students.... easy!

As the old gag says - whats the most common question asked of a philisophp graduate?
"Can I have large fries with that please?"

The other issue is quality of teaching... too big a can of worms for me to open up now - I'm going out in six hours time!! Save to say that there is a percentage of young people that do a nowter degree cos its the logical next step and they finish three years. As demand is low in the labour market they opt for the fourth year tossing it off and qualify as teachers. The following year they end up in schools and lack the interpersonal skills needed to tame 32 lions with neither whip, chair nor revolver....
Some of the best and most enthusiastic teachers I know are under 25 but a good proportion are as above. There was always a groan in the staff room when the head said that they had appointed a wonderfully qualified candidate - we wanted someone that could hold his/her own in a street fight.

Last edited by gary; 23rd August 2006 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 23rd August 2006, 01:03 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by gary
As the old gag says - whats the most common question asked of a philisophp graduate?
"Can I have large fries with that please?"
Funny .

I liked the line from the recent libel trial here in the UK about Paul Mckenna's degree/Phd from a certain US university. There was only one question to answer correctly in order to be awarded the degree, "Do you have 2,615 dollars, sir?".
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Old 23rd August 2006, 01:06 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marbella
Funny .

I liked the line from the recent libel trial here in the UK about Paul Mckenna's degree/Phd from a certain US university. There was only one question to answer correctly in order to be awarded the degree, "Do you have 2,615 dollars, sir?".
Excellent!!

i have never met anyone with a (genuine) doctorate that could teach yet the ex miner that was our caretaker at one school could hold a class spellbound. They arent made, they're born.
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Old 23rd August 2006, 04:50 PM   #27
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I read a book that was written in the 30s. I forget its name, but its main point was the fact that spelling and grammar were declining at such a fast rate even then. People were missing out the apostrophe in "to-day" and not using a full stop to indicate abbreviations (it used to be the B.B.C., but now you would hardly ever see that). The author then took a turn and explained that he did not mean this and that it was actually a good thing that English was so flexible and open to change. If a word does not exist, you can borrow it (déjà vû), adapt from a different word (podcast) or completely make it up and the chances are that you would be understood. Gary mentioned that the split infinitive would put him off a company, but why should this not be used. The common example used is to "boldly go". When it comes down to it, English is a Germanic language and it should be able to split the infinitive if it bloody well wants. I try to write and spell correctly, but if the rules change, I'm happy to change with them.

People complain about lack of standards, but as long as people need to express themselves, language will find its way.
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Old 23rd August 2006, 09:11 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan
People complain about lack of standards, but as long as people need to express themselves, language will find its way.
True, and they have come up with some real horrors; "To Obligate" and "to acclimate" being my two pets hates our American cousins have decided are better than the original words. Talk about reinventing the wheel!

But my main gripe is that we seem to be raising a generation that have a measure of difficulty in "expressing themselves". I have to deal with reports from supposedly "educated" engineers and their spelling, syntax, punctuation and sentence construction leaves a lot to be desired. I usually have to read only the first paragraph before I ask if they have proof read what they have written. "I spell checked it", they say, forgetting that our language contains many homonyms.

In fact I get better English reports from my Indian and Pakistani colleagues - and they don't regard me as a freak when I point out an error.

A language is a collection of words following preset rules. We are all aware of that in our Spanish studies. Use the correct word with the correct rule and you get unambiguous communication, which is the point, really. "Express yourself" in your own way and the only person who understands what you want to say is you. That's bad commnication and a waste of language. Assuming they actually use words and not a series of grunts or, "I was like..." followed by some silly mime.

Having said that, yes, languages are living things and do indeed change, but we all have to agree on the changes or misunderstanding will be the result. Compare "Pissed" as used in the UK and the states, which is a poor example, but it's getting late.
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Old 23rd August 2006, 09:19 PM   #29
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"Obligate" is incorrect? What do you consider the correct form of that word? Shouldn't there be differences between British english and American english?
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Old 24th August 2006, 12:42 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan
I read a book that was written in the 30s. I forget its name, but its main point was the fact that spelling and grammar were declining at such a fast rate even then. People were missing out the apostrophe in "to-day" and not using a full stop to indicate abbreviations (it used to be the B.B.C., but now you would hardly ever see that). The author then took a turn and explained that he did not mean this and that it was actually a good thing that English was so flexible and open to change. If a word does not exist, you can borrow it (déjà vû), adapt from a different word (podcast) or completely make it up and the chances are that you would be understood. Gary mentioned that the split infinitive would put him off a company, but why should this not be used. The common example used is to "boldly go". When it comes down to it, English is a Germanic language and it should be able to split the infinitive if it bloody well wants. I try to write and spell correctly, but if the rules change, I'm happy to change with them.

People complain about lack of standards, but as long as people need to express themselves, language will find its way.
The split infinitive thing was tongue in cheek - I too try 'to never miss'
Star trek but I might feel more confident in a company that plainly had a grasp of form, spelling and grammar rather than one that did not.

BTW Thats a hyphen in to-day not an apostrophe (sorry couldnt not...)

VS - I too am uncomfortable with the verb to obligate... its even in the dictionary, but burgalrize is my pet hate - and if there were such a word (spot the subjunctive there) in English it would be spelt burglarise - with an s...

jewelry or jewellery anyone ?

Geoffrey would turn in his grave.....

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote

The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veyne in swich licour

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open ye

(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;

And specially from every shires ende

Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for to seke,

That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.


... now thats what I call English!!!!
(tongue now poking through cheek)
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Old 24th August 2006, 12:48 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ValenciaSon
"Obligate" is incorrect? What do you consider the correct form of that word? Shouldn't there be differences between British english and American english?
There are differences Between English English in London and, for instance Newcastle or Sommerset English. For Petes sake, a tea cake in Barnsley is a bread cake, some places it is a bapp, some a stotty, but if you ask for a tea cake in Leeds - 20 miles away you get a confection with currants not unlike a hot cross bun bun without the cinnamon.
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Old 24th August 2006, 12:56 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary
BTW Thats a hyphen in to-day not an apostrophe (sorry couldnt not...)
Great typo! I do know that it's a hyphen! honest!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gary
There are differences Between English English in London and, for instance Newcastle or Sommerset English. For Petes sake, a tea cake in Barnsley is a bread cake, some places it is a bapp, some a stotty, but if you ask for a tea cake in Leeds - 20 miles away you get a confection with currants not unlike a hot cross bun bun without the cinnamon.
A tea cake here is a biscuit, topped with mallow and completely covered in chocolate.
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Old 24th August 2006, 01:31 AM   #33
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Yeah so there is recognition on how the english language varies by geography, but if we spell it color, not colour or realize, not realise, it's not because we are a nation of spelling/grammar scofflaws. We speak American-English which is a legitimate version of english. British-english is also legitimate and is accepted as so in the US so why not recognize that the difference exists and lies in the fact that each society has chosen a language evolutionary path distinct to the other.

It doesn't grate me to see favour or acclimatise used but it is a little grating to be criticized for not using it
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Old 24th August 2006, 09:07 AM   #34
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Absolutely. Variations happen n its a natural part of language. Ive no problem with it at all. Similarly (but, please dont think im comparin usa English to some of the unintelligible nonsense that is typed on some forums), the variations brought about by the so called "texting generation" shud not be looked upon as a problem: theyre variations. Writing "you" as "u" for example, is in my opinion, a variation. It mite survive - it mite not. This is how words such as "o'clock", "don't" and "won't" came around. If ppl see "u" as bein an illegitimate word, they will stop using it n go bak to "you". If however, it is seen as quite useful to be able to rite a word that is used very often in a 1/3 of the time and is easier for learners of the language to spel, those who spell it "you" cud be persuaded. Perhaps not u, perhaps not ur children, but maybe their children. If the language they r spouting out is unintelligible, the status quo will stand.

Of course, if they can't get their idea across, they have no chance. And unfortunately, that is very common.
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Old 24th August 2006, 09:12 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ValenciaSon
Yeah so there is recognition on how the english language varies by geography, but if we spell it color, not colour or realize, not realise, it's not because we are a nation of spelling/grammar scofflaws. We speak American-English which is a legitimate version of english. British-english is also legitimate and is accepted as so in the US so why not recognize that the difference exists and lies in the fact that each society has chosen a language evolutionary path distinct to the other.

It doesn't grate me to see favour or acclimatise used but it is a little grating to be criticized for not using it
No, no, no, no, no! There is no such thing as British-English. There is English and there is American-English.
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Old 24th August 2006, 11:41 AM   #36
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I don't know if this is just the BBC trying to depress the British people into moving to Spain. GCSE results are out today and unsurprisingly they're better than ever. We should be celebrating in Britain that we are getting cleverer. Must be all that Omega-3 they've got us hooked on.

Good old BBC though...the headline here is 'Languages at point of no return'. German entries down 14%, French down 13%, and despite all the hype about Spanish becoming the second language for Brits, the entries are down slightly.

And...subjects that now have more entries than ever: religious studies, ICT (computer studies), PE (sports) and 'media, film and TV studies'. We used to be a nation of shopkeepers and now are we really going to be a nation of bible-bashing, internet using, football playing, Big Brother contestants?
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Old 24th August 2006, 11:53 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan
Great typo! I do know that it's a hyphen! honest!
Yeah, I knew that but I couldnt resist...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan
A tea cake here is a biscuit, topped with mallow and completely covered in chocolate.
That would be a chocolate teacake - wrapped in red and silver foil?

spelling has always been a moving target as my quote from Chaucer proves. The thing is that spelling has evolved and at any given time there is a set of accepted spellings. The current disregard for spelling for the sake of brevity is more of a mutation. As long as people know that you is spelt you and not u I think its alright, or if you prefer all right.

I know that when I left college my spelling was confident and accurate. 30+ years in classrooms being exposed to all sorts of speling variationd finds me calling my own spelling into doubt.

I am really at sea on this one, my own son is a poor speller, but can code php, html and css well enough to write an online shop. I just feel that when you're dealing with the people with the money - old farts like me - a nod in the direction of orthodoxy will get you the gig - what you do then is immaterial as long as the job is well done and meets the criteria.
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Old 24th August 2006, 11:59 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marbella
Good old BBC though...the headline here is 'Languages at point of no return'. German entries down 14%, French down 13%, and despite all the hype about Spanish becoming the second language for Brits, the entries are down slightly.
Many schools would love to offer Spanish instead of German - kids see it as relevant.
BUT - as a result of historical dominance of German and French there arent enough teachers of Spanish. Chicken - egg - etc...
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Old 24th August 2006, 12:04 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marbella
And...subjects that now have more entries than ever: religious studies, ICT (computer studies), PE (sports) and 'media, film and TV studies'. We used to be a nation of shopkeepers and now are we really going to be a nation of bible-bashing, internet using, football playing, Big Brother contestants?
How, one wonders, are they going to learn much in media studies if they are only capable of understanding English. Rules out a lot of the world! Maybe that is a hook to hang some conversational language studies on. Ditto the internet. I often access French, Italian or Spanish sites and can at least see what they are about and resort to a dictionary if need be.
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Old 24th August 2006, 12:26 PM   #40
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From the comments section on the BBC's GCSE story :

Added: Thursday, 24 August, 2006, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
YAY!!! I GOT 12 O-levuls! My teecher says my Inglish is brilliant! I told her she don't know nuthin' - she shuld see my Spannish. I love pasing exams - im going too be trying for six A-levuls in a cupple of years. Wish me LUK!!!!
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