It is safe to say there are quite a few aspects of modern life that I am almost pre-programmed to rant against.

A few weeks back I resisted the temptation to comment on a story about examinations boards allowing GCSE pupils to use text speak in test papers.

The story also included comments from some teachers who claimed the boards should go further and allow pupils to use phonetic spellings in examinations as “many of them do not use English as their first language”.

I have a certain degree of sympathy with this last point. Pupils who come from backgrounds where English is not the primary language spoken in their home or among their community do need extra support.

But surely that extra support should be directed towards improving their English language skills? This was certainly the plea made by some community leaders to the recent revelation that £100 million was spent last year on translation services rather than English lessons.

My concern is that once these pupils leave school, in the majority of cases, they will be expected to have a good standard and understanding of both written and spoken English. I cannot think of too many employers prepared to accept text speak or phonetic spelling from employees doing their day-to-day work.

This is highlighted by a study released by the BBC that many job applications are littered with basic spelling and grammatical errors.

Nearly half of all CVs received contain grammatical and spelling errors, the study involving 266 recruitment firms found. By far the worst culprits were the 21-25 age group.

“The findings show that jobseekers should first pay more attention to getting the basics right,” said Marcia Roberts, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which carried out the survey on behalf of the BBC.

She is right, of course, but I would go further and suggest it is up to schools, colleges and universities to ensure those entering the job market are suitably equipped to embark on a career. One of the biggest gripes for employers is that the first task they face when taking on new young recruits is training them to the required standard of numeracy and literacy.

Txt spk is part of modern society but it will be several more generations before it becomes anything like the accepted norm and I’m not convinced it will even happen then. The vast majority of us do not use it every minute of every day of our lives, either in work or out of it, so surely pupils leaving school should at least be able to write a few sides of A4 paper in properly written English?

I would never be as bold to suggest txt spk is banned. But allowing it to be used in exam papers is a nonsense.

An employer getting a CV through written in text speak or with phonetic spellings would be more inclined to discard it.

So why should it be allowed in exam papers?


2 responses

  1. […] for the reality of the modern workplace. For example, while many teachers maintain that using text-speak in examinations is acceptable, I’m sure most employers would prefer a higher standard of […]

  2. […] Evidence from teachers themselves seems to suggest otherwise. Indeed, a little over a year ago some teachers were advocating allowing txt spk to be used in exam papers. […]