Thursday, 29 March 2012

It’s like learning a new language…

I know very little about professional writing even though it is plastered around the globe in every corner we turn to. Be it on the Tube or bus, in a newspaper or a novel, the very presence of writing in a 'professional' context is intriguing, yet elaborate. There is so much to think about. 'Will the audience appreciate what I write? Will they even notice that it's there?' - these are two questions that are really the fundamentals of written communication, particularly as we know it.

What is a newspaper without an audience? Who will buy products without effective marketing? Our very economy and existence depends on the art of communication. Written communication is highly understated. 

Earlier this month there was a large buzz generated by the topical debate of adult numeracy – it has been reported that a large portion of adults in the UK struggle with basic mathematics and almost half of the adult population have math skills equating to those of 11-year old school pupils (The Telegraph, 2012). I myself am numerically illiterate – I am unfortunate enough to have dyscalculia and run as far away from numbers as possible – and would love nothing more than to have a firm grasp on the intricacies of mathematics and even the basic understanding of anything numerical. In terms of the responses that have been generated in the media of late, it seems that mathematics and the lack of understanding seem to be more prevalent than a basic grasp of not only the form of written communication, but also the basic concept of the English language.

With technologies and social networking changing at a rapid pace, the desire to use ‘text speak’ and slang appear to be the most commonly used form of a modern language. The use of ‘text speak’ has been adapted over the years, shortening words such as ‘you’ to ‘u’, to a whole new language created by Internet socialites, consisting of letters and numbers such as ‘1337’ (elite). So where do we draw the line?

As the growing Internet communities get younger and we move on from the iPod generation we push boundaries on technologies impacting on the way we use the English language. It is becoming ever apparent that people are incorporating their spoken words into their written language (such as essays or job applications), this will essentially lead to problems when it comes to composing professional letters or emails. So why is literacy being overlooked by professionals?

Maybe it is not just a case of overlooking literacy; maybe it is a case of ignoring requirements and capabilities. Perhaps it boils down to accents – a primary school in Essex was recently in the news regarding elocution lessons for children, it was reported to have benefitted the pupils reflecting in the standards of reading and writing (BBC News – Essex, Feb. 2012). This said, I grew up in a rural part of the country with nothing but fields and farmland – I have a slight accent, but this is not reflected in the way in which I write.


Please take a minute to sign a petition for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) to provide mandatory teacher training in dyslexia - to sign, just follow the link: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20674.

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