The English Language

I was sent this video by Stephen Fry over the weekend and, though it is a rant, I think it’s worth watching as educators.

I wonder where we draw the line between the natural and unstoppable transformation of language; and the teaching of “correct” English? If teachers don’t teach grammar accurately (and it makes you wonder if they are able to when you receive incorrectly phrased emails), how do we expect students to be able to pull accurate English usage out of the bag when it counts, as Fry discusses?

I wonder if students are being lazy with English, as Fry suggests, or if they actually don’t know? I think they are often lazy when typing online and use capitals and so on haphazardly. But it never ceases to amaze me that students can get though years and years of schooling without knowing when to use “much” and when to use “many”. How has no one at school or at home ever corrected them?!

I also wonder if we should expect public text (whether oral or written) to be accurate? Children are exposed to so much incorrect English, it is no wonder they get confused when they need to use apostrophes.

My use of English is nowhere near the standard it probably should be, so I am not one to rave on at all. But I think teachers play an increasingly important role in ensuring students are ready to tackle the big, bad world. Obviously competencies, skills and so forth are terribly important but so are the (so called) basics.

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