The English language

February 3, 2010 at 10:44 am (Rants) ()

Since I took on the role of English teacher, I have been seriously critiquing my own grammar and vocabulary. When I’m teaching verb tenses all day it becomes an unconscious impulse to analyze if I just said or wrote something in present perfect, and should I have used the simple past instead?

In all honesty, I don’t remember learning tenses in school, at least  not laid out and explained the way I am doing in my classes. Even in college – we did reviews of punctuation and other generalities, but I can’t recall a discussion of tenses. Or maybe I tuned out for that class.

All this to say, I am very aware of my grammar in recent months, which is probably a good thing. And as a journalist, I have always appreciated the English language and how sentences are put together.

I heartily agree with this article, that claims my generation’s English is positively dreadful thanks to social networking and texting. Teenagers are putting emoticons in their university applications or using “cuz” in cover letters. This is completely unacceptable. I don’t know how they think they are going to get anywhere in life if they can’t put a basic sentence together. No matter how hip and technologically advanced our workplaces are becoming, there are no substitutes for a well-written memo or clearly articulated presentations.

If students can’t pass a basic English test to enter university, how do they expect to get a job and contribute to society? It seems many of those in my generation expect to have window offices and fat pay cheques handed to them on a silver platter, so language exams with an F at the top could be a beneficial wake-up call: Yes, there is some effort involved in achieving your goals. Also, sometimes you have to participate in face-to-face conversations to discuss an issue that can’t be summed up in a three-word text and smiley face.

What do you think: are teenagers and young adults losing the ability to write proper English? Does it even matter?


1 Comment

  1. Janet said,

    I totally agree with you! Most teenagers and young adults aren’t using proper English at all. It seems the problem is most older adults don’t want to “suppress their freedom of speech” or the older generation just simply thinks spelling properly and grammar in general is just highly overrated. Its sad that this is what its coming too. But I`m sure it`ll get worse, like in 20 years when all these “kids” are bosses and leaders in their workplace.

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