Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The ‘Lolspeak’ Generation….

Letter writing is becoming a lost art, according to education chiefs.

They said teenagers are increasingly unlikely to be able to address a letter correctly, spell 'sincerely' or sign off with their name.

Basic punctuation is being abandoned as emails, text messages and gossip magazine-style 'cliches' take over.
No-one who has glanced at the ‘comments’ section of any local paper, particularly on a story followed by youngsters, will be surprised at that. Their comments are almost unreadable.

Or check out most ‘Facebook’ pages or ‘MySpace’ entries written by young people.

And anyone pointing this out as a problem has their concerns poo-poohed as ‘well, that’s only when they comment online, they will adapt their communication styles accordingly when they need to’.

Yet, for many, it seems they won’t…
The problems were highlighted by the country's largest exam board, the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, in a series of reports on last summer's English GCSEs.

In one question, candidates were found lacking when asked to address a letter to a Government minister about education.

'There were surprisingly few who: put an address, included a date, wrote an appropriate salutation, signed off appropriately and consistently with the salutation, included the name of the sender,' the report said.
All, you’ll note, things that you don’t need for online communication (because the software inserts it for you).

So, why are students no longer told that there are times and places for that style of communication, and times and places for real written communication?
Of another paper, which also called for the writing of a letter, the alliance said: 'The misuse or lack of capital letters were the commonest errors, an error often compounded by poor hand-writing and illegibility.

Initial letters in sentences are frequently written in lower case; random capitals are used throughout the response, and the personal pronoun "I" is written in lower case.
This cannot have just come to light at exam time – it must have been apparent in their classes. Why is it not being picked up by teachers?

What roles are these young people being educated for?
Meanwhile, examiners at Oxford and Cambridge have warned about the death of the apostrophe due to increased use of text messaging.

They criticised pupils' limited vocabularies, which left them 'trapped firmly in the world of magazine-speak and dully predictable cliche; such as "you will love it".'
Hmmm, ‘magazine-speak’ and ‘dully predictable cliches’…

I’ve got it! They are training the next generation of media wonks and politicians!

32 comments:

Sue said...

Perhaps I'm a bit weird then. If I write an official email, I put my address on it and use the polite forms of address and usually end it just like a letter or I write the letter in word and attach it!

Plato said...

I remember back in around 2004 going onto the BBC kids site and comments were almost intelligible.

It made txt spk seem like Esperanto in comparison.

I have no objection to using 'another language' when it fits but kids surely have to know their own language first ???

I find it really depressing - but then again I've been a sub-ed in my previous life :O

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Why is it not being picked up by teachers?Do you have kids? I'm guessing not, or you are lucky enough to afford private schooling or have a grammar school. I regularly have fits of apoplexy over the standards of homework that schools accept. Even in English, if the teacher can make out what the kid was trying to say, that's good enough.

Or as a teacher might see:

do u hav kidz i gess not I regly hav fitz ov woteva abt stds of hmwk tht skoolz aksept evn in inglish if teechr cn maik out wot the kid wuz tryin 2 say thts gud enuf

And it's all down to the teachers ... they choose to let this shit continue.

Anonymous said...

obnoxio - 'choose to let this shit continue'

They took away our red pens for marking and told us to use green instead (less confrontational), we are instructed to accept 'street talk' in essays because 'that's the pupils' cultural identity' and we have to deal with vociferous parents who don't want their kids 'talking posh'.

That there are bad teachers I do not dispute, but many of us are valiantly fighting a rearguard action against the overwhelming tide of socio-linguistic trends.

patently said...

I’ve got it! They are training the next generation of media wonks and politicians! Together with the next generation of greengrocer's, it seems.

Dr Melvin T Gray said...

The young will go their own way and regard any irritation to an older generation, as incidental.

Anonymous said...

I'm part of 'Generation Y', and I can't stand having to read text speak.

I wouldn't recommend getting to hot under the collar about it - as a rule of thumb, if it's written in alt caps, text speak or suchlike, then it's probably not worth reading.

Mark Wadsworth said...

LMAO!

SteveShark said...

@Obnoxio
And it's all down to the teachers ... they choose to let this shit continue.

Teachers have very little choice in this.
When the National Curriculum was introduced it brought in a degree of standardisation that could have been very effective. However, that standardisation has mushroomed into a system so prescriptive that, along with the ideological and theoretical strictures imposed by this Labour government, it alows teachers very little autonomy.
Once the last of the 'old school' (sic) teachers have left the profession, you'll be left with a teaching force that has never experienced the freedom to teach children according to their individual needs and not some grand but fatally flawed 'vision' of equality at all costs.
Once the 'game' alters - which it will surely have to if the Tories get in - we'll be left with teachers who don't know what it's like to actually think for themselves.
Sad, but truly not their fault.
Blame the excessive tinkering from this government.

JuliaM said...

"Perhaps I'm a bit weird then. If I write an official email, I put my address on it and use the polite forms of address and usually end it just like a letter..."

Me too. But then, I grew up with 'letter writing' as the main form of communication, so transfer that to email correspondence.

"I have no objection to using 'another language' when it fits but kids surely have to know their own language first ???"

You'd think so, wouldn't you...

"I regularly have fits of apoplexy over the standards of homework that schools accept."

I hear this a lot from friends with kids in the comp system...

JuliaM said...

"..many of us are valiantly fighting a rearguard action against the overwhelming tide of socio-linguistic trends."

I suspect, as time goes on, most will give up, or move into private education. Thus increasing the gap...

"Together with the next generation of greengrocer's, it seems."

Lol! Yes, the dreaded 'greengrocers apostrophe' is spreading like a plague...

"..as a rule of thumb, if it's written in alt caps, text speak or suchlike, then it's probably not worth reading."

Very true!

"Once the 'game' alters - which it will surely have to if the Tories get in..."

Are you sure about that? I haven't seen any signs of the Conservatives doing more than tinkering.

And in order to effect real change, they will need to meet the educationalist lobby head on. And I'm not sure they have the stomach for that fight, on top of all the others....

Anonymous said...

Julia M Fogey, is it now?

Ross said...

"In one question, candidates were found lacking when asked to address a letter to a Government minister about education. ".

Why did they fail to include a death threat or a steaming turd in what they sent?

SteveShark said...

"Once the 'game' alters - which it will surely have to if the Tories get in..."

Are you sure about that? I haven't seen any signs of the Conservatives doing more than tinkering.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Well, that's a very fair point.
We're all waiting for a policy on anything from that particular political quarter.
I may well vote Tory next time if I think they offer the best chance of this country climbing out of a very big hole indeed, but I'll need to see something to vote for first.

Mr Eugenides said...

It makes me feel awfully fogey-ish to complain about these things, but yes.

It must be admitted that your average teenager has little cause to write a letter these days, unless it's under some hare-brained government scheme to make them apologise to pensioners they've mugged. But one wonders how they will cope when called upon to write covering letters when applying for jobs.

(Of course, when applying for jobs in the public sector one is discouraged from writing covering letters; indeed, application forms are careful to ensure that there is no space for you to indicate your gender or date of birth, lest someone discriminate against you.

The only personal information you are asked for, apart from contact details, are the forms appended to the application to ask whether you consider yourself to be disabled [sic] and to which ethnic group you consider yourself to belong. But that's a whole other story...)

Anyway, perhaps if they spent more time learning basic spelling and punctuation, and less being being taught how to Twitter, this country wouldn't be quite so far down the toilet.

Oh dear, I do sound like a fogey, don't I? Bah.

Hibbo said...

Don't just blame the kids!

I've worked with a lot of guys in who are in their forties and upwards, and their grammar is appalling. Utterly hopeless. One supervisor asked my to check over some work procedure documents, I highlighted all his spelling and grammar mistakes (the usual shit; there/their/they're, hopeless apostrophe usage) only to be told "stop taking the piss, that doesn't matter". Well yes it does, those documents will be going to a customer who has paid a lot of money for our services, if they think we can't be arsed to write correctly, what else are they going to think we don't care about?

A family member is currently at University doing a (ahem) degree in (ahem ahem) Creative Writing. I saw some of his coursework (a monologue piece) and it contained things like "m8". When I told him to get a grip, he said "oh it doesn't matter, that's how people speak". No they don't. No one says "m8". He didn't get it. Yes it is appropriate to write certain pieces using colloquialisms etc (a la Irvine Welsh) but people do NOT say "m8", they say "mate"!

Grrrrrrrrrr!

PS. My current manager, who is a very intelligent and decent fella, starts all his group emails with "Guy's". Fucking hell.

Von Spreuth said...

Hibbo said...

Don't just blame the kids!

I've worked with a lot of guys in who are in their forties and upwards, and their grammar is appalling. Utterly hopeless.
Quite.

I was thinking along similar lines earlier on today when I first saw the thread.

At school I was always around top of the middle band, always about 2% away from getting "promoted". But I remember one particular half hour lesson where the English teacher, at the time in school when the "form teacher" is basically everything from maths, to English, to "science". In this half hour she told us what a noun was, an Adjective, and a verb.

That was IT for the entire rest of my school sentence. NEVER again until the day we left did we get taught grammar.

As "middle band" we were not expected to "need" it, as we would not be taking languages later.

I am 48 now, so we are talking...1972 or 73.

We were also hit by the I.T.A shite AND "Quiesonaires" (sp?) for maths (Where a blue chunk of wood is "3" and a green one is "4" or something). NOW, my generation are the headmasters and teacher trainers. What does any one expect?

Luckily, at 15, or so, I transfered to the Swedish and German schooling system and made it to degree level. But if I had stayed in the U.K....???

Von Brandenburg-Preußen.

JuliaM said...

"..."Quiesonaires" (sp?) for maths (Where a blue chunk of wood is "3" and a green one is "4" or something). "

Ahhhh, is that what they were called?

Yup, I had those too.

Von Spreuth said...

You are giving away your age....Oh dear, I never WAS much of a gentelman....

vBP.

Macheath said...

Von Spreuth/JuliaM, I think you mean cuisenaire rods; they were different lengths and made of coloured wood or plastic and if you chewed them you had to go and stand in the corridor.

You can still buy them online, if you're into that sort of thing. I can't believe you got cuisenaire rods AND ITA - that's really bad timing!

Actually, I'm amazed NuLab hasn't cottoned on to ITA; an incomprehensible jargon that renders all existing textbooks obsolete, necessitates hours of pointless teacher re-training and turns out a generation unable to spell should be just up their street.

JuliaM said...

"You are giving away your age..."

Blogger does that for me... ;)

"You can still buy them online, if you're into that sort of thing..."

Oh, my. You really can, too, and even at Amazon!

Though, the ones we used were wooden, and didn't snap together. I guess that's 'progress'... ;)

SteveShark said...

I had to teach ITA when I took up my first teaching post in a first school. My daughter also went there and ITA didn't do her reading any favours at all as we'd already taught her to read.
But what could the teachers do?
It was decreed from 'on high' that we teach ITA even though everyone hated it.
The same applies today with the various government initiatives.
Classroom teachers basically do what they're told and have zero say in it.

JuliaM said...

Luckily, I missed the I.T.A. nonsense, by virtue of having been taught to read long before starting school by my parents.

So while everyone else was labouring through 'Roderick The Red' (a ghastly pirates-based primer), I got the freedom of the school library!

SteveShark said...

What about Dienes Blocks?
They were purple and were used to teach place value and bases.
The base 10 cube (worth 1000 units) was a lethal missile in the hands of a psychotic child...

JuliaM said...

"..Dienes Blocks?"

The name is familiar, but I can't place them from the description...

JuliaM said...

Oh, I'm just wallowing in nostalgia now, as a result of this site....

SteveShark said...

Dienes Blocks:

http://www.mindfields.in/MF02/mf2-bringLearningHome-dienes.jpg

These look like the upmarket wooden ones.

SteveShark said...

Although ITA was a total waste of time, the maths equipmewnt people have mentioned was fine.
If you taught your own child maths thern you wouldn't just pitch in with numbers - you'd use things to represent quantity,
Cuisenaire rods were great to teach number bonds with, too, and show concepts such as the fact that 5+3 and 3+5 will have the same answer.
Let's not tar all things past with the ITA brush...

Anonymous said...

'Cuisenaire rods were great to teach number bonds with'

I concur, but only in the hands of a competent teacher. We had 8 supply teachers in one year and the only thing I clearly remember about the rods is that they are a near-perfect fit for an eight-year-old nostril.

North Northwester said...

ITA - I hated it.

It stands for 'I can't spell.'

I still can't.

Progressive bastards. Shoot the lot. Get some African teachers in.

Von Spreuth said...

JuliaM said...

Luckily, I missed the I.T.A. nonsense, by virtue of having been taught to read long before starting school by my parents.
Same here...well by my Grandparents, but... It did not stop them though, I was in the ridiculous situation of being able to read and write in human English at home, but being sent to the Headmisstress at school because they were doing ITA "English", and according to them, my perfectly hand written quotation from Churchills "History of the English speaking peoples" (I was 7 or 8 at the time) was spelled wrongly.

The trouble with these "Teaching theorists" is, that they all seem to be former chemistry teachers; "If it goes wrong, just throw it down the sink, wash the test tube, and start again". It is about time they realised that their pathetic little theories can ruin peoples educational, and therefore job chances, for their entire lives.

Von Brandenburg-Preußen.

Chalcedon said...

Having been using computers, keyboards and printers for over 20 years I must say my handwriting has been affected. To get it back in shape I always try to use and italic Berol pen. This works because to use it properly to have to write slower than with say a Bic crystal!

How are the poor dears with all these A grades and A* going to get jobs if they can't write a covering letter for their CV? Even online covering letters are often required.