Letter writing is becoming a lost art, according to education chiefs.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.
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.
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.All, you’ll note, things that you don’t need for online communication (because the software inserts it for you).
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.
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.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?
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.
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.Hmmm, ‘magazine-speak’ and ‘dully predictable cliches’…
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".'
I’ve got it! They are training the next generation of media wonks and politicians!