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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:51 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:41 pm
Posts: 10911
Location: Essex
I can't actually remember what series of links took me to this piece (I think it may have started with a desire to find out more about APs in the US High School system - as I always say, proper Elephant's Child here :) ), but I found it rather interesting. Some of the comments even more so, particularly the ones along the lines of 'the purpose of writing being for the reader to be able to understand what you have written (who'd have thunk it?).



If linking to pieces in foreign newspapers is not allowed (or it can't be linked to because I am using my phone and even requesting the desktop version seems still to link to the mobile one?) and the links get wiped, the original piece was from the New York Times and was entitled, 'Why Kids Can't Write' :) .

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.Groucho Marx

PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:15 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:29 am
Posts: 1636
It is an interesting article. I agree that many teachers cannot wrote to save their lives - many's the time I have had to send reports back and ask for them to be rewritten :o . Sadly, there are plenty of English teachers who are poor writers as well. I think the emphasis, certainly in my lifetime, has been on honing literature analysis at the expense of writing skills.

The new English language GCSE is pretty demanding in terms of skill-set; as well as the usual comprehension/inference/analysis and so on (with the new focus on understanding structure), students also need to be able to demonstrate strong descriptive powers as well as the ability to argue, persuade, write letters, newspaper articles and so on. This is why it is VITAL for all our dc to see examples of these as much as possible. Unless they do, they cannot be expected to reproduce them in the future. So much of our news is online nowadays, and is written in what I call ADHD style. We need to provide our dc with good quality material.

My 2 dc are surgically attached to their phones but I am an absolute unashamed bully when it comes to reading and studying good quality material. They read books. They read newpapers/magazines etc. I make them do it. They will not get their phones back unless they do it. They whinge, moan and complain and tell me I am the worst mother in the world but I tell them I don't care and they will thank me in the end. :lol:

They use a language consisting of bizarre acronyms and slang of which I have no knowledge and yes, it is true, some youngsters honestly do have a lot of trouble distinguishing between this and standard English. Sadly.

PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:22 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:21 pm
Posts: 16254
There was an interesting 'Teachers as Writers' project in Bucks - Simon Wrigley was the English Adviser involved here:


PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:10 pm 

Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 9:39 am
Posts: 1505
Long before you get to what is written, there's what is heard, spoken and read. In that order.

To help a child with language, any language, ensure the child hears the language spoken properly at an appropriate speed, by a variety of speakers. That's because people express things in different ways, with different words and at a different pace.

Chit chat in real life helps. Having meals together helps. Stories help. So does listening to a competent native speaker reading aloud. Unabridged audio books are great, especially if parents do not speak English as a first language - libraries have lots of them. The next step is listening to interesting radio programmes with descriptions, discussions and diverse views (e.g. Radio 4). Good movies help too, but I'd prioritise radio first - there's plenty of exposure to films and the visuals do work that has to happen with words alone on the radio.

Good listening skills build good speaking skills. If children feel they have nothing to say, how can we expect them to write?

Reading helps. Try different authors, different genres, different lengths. Variety matters.

If children have oodles of experience of listening, speaking and reading, by the time they turn to writing, it's easy. They know what they want to say. They can figure out where it begins and ends and how to tell their story in a way that will engage their reader. And their inner voice speaks grammatically! They know instinctively that they mean 'should have', rather than the ALWAYS incorrect 'should of'.

Vocabulary acquisition is a life-long thing. Grammatical mechanics can also be refined forever, but without something to say and good listening and speaking skills that have inspired a range of ways to express it, written output will never be anything more than formulaic nonsense.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 3:52 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:52 am
Posts: 300
This thread makes me think of a BBC news story I read today which included the following paragraph:

"Kronos is a type of malware known as a Trojan, meaning it disguises itself as legitimate software. It is thought to be named after a mythological creature."

Even DD was appalled by the last sentence.

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