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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 1, 2010

coLeges fnd studnts DK gramA NEmor lk u knw?

Cnews, Canada - Little or no grammar teaching, cellphone texting, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, all are being blamed for an increasingly unacceptable number of post-secondary students who can't write properly.

For years there's been a flood of anecdotal complaints from professors about what they say is the wretched state of English grammar coming from some of their students.

Now there seems to be some solid evidence.

Ontario's Waterloo University is one of the few post-secondary institutions in Canada to require the students they accept to pass an exam testing their English language skills.

Almost a third of those students are failing. . .

Barrett says the failure rate has jumped five percentage points in the past few years. . .

Even those with good marks out of Grade 12, so-called elite students, "still can't pass our simple test," she says.

Poor grammar is the major reason students fail, says Barrett. . .

At Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, one in 10 new students are not qualified to take the mandatory writing courses required for graduation.

That 10 per cent must take so-called "foundational" writing courses first. . .

Emoticons, happy faces, sad faces, cuz, are just some of the writing horrors being handed in, say professors and administrators at Simon Fraser.

"Little happy faces . . . or a sad face . . . little abbreviations," show up even in letters of academic appeal, says Khan Hemani.

"Instead of 'because', it's 'cuz'. That's one I see fairly frequently," she says, and these are new in the past five years.

Khan Hemani sends appeal submissions with emoticons in them back to students to be re-written "because a committee will immediately get their backs up when they see that kind of written style."

. . . Says Paul Budra, an English professor and associate dean of arts and science at Simon Fraser, "Punctuation errors are huge, and apostrophe errors. Students seem to have absolutely no idea what an apostrophe is for. None. Absolutely none."

"I get their essays and I go 'You obviously don't know what a sentence fragment is. You think commas are sort of like parmesan cheese that you sprinkle on your words'," said Budra. . .

He says this has been going on now for the 20 years he's taught college and university in B.C. and Ontario-only the mistakes have changed. . .


2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is writing like singing? Are most people just doomed to be bad at it?

February 1, 2010 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FLUNK 'EM, AND FLUNK 'EM HIGH!

February 2, 2010 6:08 AM  

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