Thursday, November 03, 2005

Can one write love poetry in txt?

This is worth a look. A study at Cambridge has found that young people's writing skills have not, as some continue to say, fallen, in fact they seem to have improved.

(From The Australian) Despite this, a two-year study by Cambridge University found that today's teenagers are using far more complex sentence structures, a wider vocabulary and a more accurate use of capital letters, punctuation and spelling. The quality of writing has also improved, said Alf Massey, head of evaluation at Cambridge Assessment, the department of Cambridge University that carried out the study.
What is really interesting is that this same article, by the same author, also appeared in The Times but with a rather different focus. It seems as though The Times has no problem forgrounding the the positive results of the study, but The Australian cannot allow itself (or our English teachers and young people) a moment of respite from its self-proclaimed campaign to champion and defend the traditions and values which are being eroded day by day in schools across the nation. I guess we should be grateful for the 'ideologically neutral' high ground The Australian always takes. Here is a selection from The Times.

Teenagers are ten times more likely to use non-standard English in written exams than in 1980, using colloquial words, informal phrases and text-messaging shorthand — such as m8 for ‘mate’, 2 instead of ‘too’ and u for ‘you’.

Despite this, the two-year study found that today’s teenagers are using far more complex sentence structures, a wider vocabulary and a more accurate use of capital letters, punctuation and spelling.

The study used samples from thousands of English language examinations sat by 16-year-olds in 1980, 1993, 1994 and 2004. Mr Massey compared students’ general written ability to express themselves accurately and clearly through a range of grammatical structures.

Vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and grammatical adequacy were then looked at.

He said: “The quality of many features of writing by school leavers has improved over the past decade.”

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