TED Conversations

Sandra Awood

Retired,

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Should colleges and universities be penalized for graduating English-speaking students who cannot speak, write, and spell proper English?

Many graduates of US institutions of higher learning cannot use proper English. K-12 teachers in particular, but really every English-speaking, non-disabled graduate, should be required to demonstrate both good diction & good grammar.
It seems there is a subtle, insidious & invidious class-based outcome otherwise. Can non-fluent regular people, i.e. not geniuses, get jobs? I submit that schools who perpetuate this form of illiteracy should be penalized, perhaps fined. What do you think?

0
Share:
progress indicator
  • thumb
    May 24 2012: I will now exhibit my monumental naivete'. . . 1) Is it not the responsibility of accrediting organizations to verify the curriculum of schools? 2) Is it not the obligation of the school to teach the curriculum approved by the accrediting organization? 3) Is it not the responsibility of the school to award diplomas only to those who demonstrate at least minimum scholastic performance consistent with the approved curriculum? 4) If the school defaults on their legal obligation are there not prescribed punitive measures in-place? 5) Is not the accrediting organization obligated to exercise punitive measures against guilty schools? What is the problem?
    • May 25 2012: I am probably the naive one. However, having worked in the QA field a bit, I learned that accrediting bodies survey paperwork, documents expertly prepared by professionals. Curriculum isn't a problem; it's that the use of English, particularly spoken English, is sometimes not addressed. I'm not sure, but I doubt accrediting bodies consider spoken English. (I will research this. Thanks for mentioning.) For example, a college might require an upper level writing class, but students can use spell-check & get writing assistance, & their diction & spoken English are never addressed. This clearly is not a problem in law schools! I raised this question for two reasons: 1) Athletes who become commentators sometimes speak poorly; 2) Teachers, on whom our k-12 students depend for learning languge skills, sometimes are inadequate in their own use of English. I started to see that the "best" school districts hire the best teachers, & that makes me question .... Of course, high school grads should be required to use English proficiently, but yo obtain a college degree without this ability is even worse.
      • thumb
        May 25 2012: I guess it is more difficult to evaluate speaking ability than spelling and writing. Hmmm.
  • thumb

    Josh S

    • 0
    May 25 2012: students graduating from colleges and universities in the United States can speak English. They can write English. They can spell properly. Of course many students may not be able to spell very complicated or out-of-the ordinary words, but they generally spell properly.

    I don't see what basis you are making your question on. Students can use English properly now. Where does your question originate from?
    • May 25 2012: Josh, not to repeat, I responded (just now) to another note, & responded to your question in so doing.
      I wish I could agree with you. Many HS & college grads, maybe even most, do fine. Some don't, & it does appear to me to be somewhat socio-economically related, but I would like to be proven incorrect.
      • thumb

        Josh S

        • 0
        May 25 2012: So i read to the rest of the comments, sorry for not doing so before. I think you mainly have a point when it comes to spoken english. Many grads probably dont use correctly spoken English.

        But is this a problem? this is the same in every language. The vernacular is the language of the people, whether it be slang terms of the English language, or completely other languages. Yes correct language must be used in order to express your ideas correctly, but grads can do that, whether it be through correct english language, or slang. I myself am in AP english, i do well, i think i write well. I know i dont talk in correct english out-loud. But there really isnt a draw back, im able to communicate with others and express my ideas fine, and others understand me. Thats the whole point of language isnt it?
        • May 25 2012: Hi Josh,
          If you're studying AP English, you evidently don't have a deficit in English! You clearly can write well, & probably you can speak properly, too, even if you choose to use slang in casual conversation. Most well educated people use slang - selectively. My concern is that people/students who don't learn proper English at home might well not learn it at all. Hence, my comment about socio/economic status. In this country, those who do not use Englsh well generally suffer economically. Best!
  • thumb
    May 24 2012: Why stop at Colleges and universities? Surely in 12 years that should be a requirement for graduation?
    • May 25 2012: I couldn't agree more! I picked on colleges because it seems even a greater travesty. I see/hear their grads & am concerned that if grads of teacher prep programs cannot use English, they probably cannot teach their students...I wonder if debate courses in HS & law schools at the college level are unique in addressing this.
      • thumb
        May 25 2012: Hi Sandra!
        When something drivews you crazy you have to decide how you wull react. Unless you are an HR director why not just inculcate these skills into every young person you love and give them the best advantage ever, Most of us have no hope of changing an entire system but if we each do whatever we can it gets better. When I TA'd at a university I was ofteb amazed by the depth of thought and the ideas that some that we would consider illiterate had. I think that they are suffering more greatly than we realize/
      • thumb
        May 25 2012: Hi Sandra!
        When something drives you crazy you have to decide how you will react. Unless you are an HR director why not just inculcate these skills into every young person you love and give them the best advantage ever? Most of us have no hope of changing an entire system but if we each do whatever we can it gets better. When I TA'd at a university I was ofteb amazed by the depth of thought and the ideas that some that we would consider illiterate had. I think that they are suffering more greatly than we realize!
        • May 25 2012: Hi Debra,
          Thanks for your thoughtful remarks. I agree completely that people who apper illiterate, those who cannot use English well, are not necessarily stupid. Not by any means! My concern is that their opportunities for gainful employment might be limited, as prospective employers might not look beneath the surface. I also agree that many suffer. That's why I think English fluency should be taught - & for the most part, it isn't. If we're honest, most of us learned to speak, if not write, though osmosis, i.e. our families. Schools aren't cutting it in this area; too many facts to teach, too many tests to pass. I'm not damning the schools but suggesting that fluency be made a priority & that they become accountable in this area. Teachers, in particular, concern me. If they can't...they probably can't teach it. What do you think?
  • Comment deleted