Who didn’t see this coming? Waterloo University, a fine institution of higher learning, in Canada, has found that 30 percent of incoming freshman cannot pass a “simple” English test. New communication methods, primarily Twitter, texting, and social networking sites like Facebook, are to blame. To quote a classic line from The Simpsons, “Me fail English? That’s unpossible.”
The story is that students these days simply have terrible grammar, end of discussion. It’s becoming so bad that many of these students are not being admitted to university, or, if they are accepted, they have to take basic English classes to merely get up to speed.
Blame Twitter. Well, that’s a little unfair, but only a little. For some reason, a certain percentage of young people today think it’s acceptable to use words, if you can even call them words, like “cuz” and “lol” in formal writing. It gets worse, says one professor at Simon Fraser university:
The words ‘a lot’ have become one word, for everyone, as far as I can tell. ‘Definitely’ is always spelled with an ‘a’ -’definitely’. I don’t know why. Punctuation errors are huge, and apostrophe errors. Students seem to have absolutely no idea what an apostrophe is for. None. Absolutely none.
This looks like a job for Mr. Period! (And what’s the deal with apostrophes? Do people still mix up “its” with “it’s”? Or do people needlessly pluralize words with the addition of apostrophes, like CD’s and DVD’s?)
Now, it’s one thing to blame Twitter and whatnot, but the problem is deeper than that. The fact is, well, grammar simply isn’t taught in school anymore. I, myself, didn’t learn a whole lot of grammar until 11th grade, when, all of a sudden, it became an issue in English and Spanish class. I think our English exam at the end of the year had a fairly thorough grammar section, while our Spanish teacher was shocked that we didn’t know the difference between an object pronoun and subject pronoun.
That makes for a wicked combination, minimal formal education on the subject combined with the carefree attitude of Twitter and texting. Melodramatic types might call that a toxic combination.
Now, CrunchGear obviously isn’t a shining beacon of English excellence, but we do try to meet a minimum standard of readability. I can assure you all that I’m trying to be annoying whenever I use phrases like “lol” or “jkjkjk”; I don’t use the phrases out of laziness or because I think it’s proper to write “lmfao” in anything but nonsense communication with friends. Granted, you could argue that CrunchGear is nothing if not nonsense communication, but that’s a subject for another day.
(And yes, I know that many of you will have only found out about this post because of Twitter, but I have no control over that since things tweet automatically here.)