Writing skills critical in education
PERFECT speaking must be complemented by perfect writing. If language learning must be complete, both speaking well or effectively and writing must be developed with equal refinement. Have you ever realised that today’s children from as early as ECD speak English very well? Some of them are more fluent than their teachers.
They speak real London English and twist their tongues so beautifully you can mistake them for black Americans. They balance their tenses and hardly breach acknowledged rules of grammar. Their tense control is perfect. They will amaze you with their fluency and confidence. All that is fine!
I want to remind serious teachers of English Language that while speaking English like a nightingale is fine and an added advantage in many instances and circumstances in life, writing is more critical.
All examinations are written and not spoken.
That needs no over-emphasis. If you speak English better than Churchill and Obama put together, but cannot ‘speak’ effectively and intelligently to the examiners in writing, you have majored in a minor.
Speaking well impresses a prospective boyfriend or girlfriend...a future wife or husband. It is good for courtship, film-acting and radio or television show-biz. It’s good for image making... there is no doubt about that.
Those who speak better, win spouses earlier than laconic, dreary, boring, tedious, lacklustre love candidates. Some politicians win votes through flaming oratory...beautiful and powerful speeches.
There is charm and power in beautiful speaking. But you need to make sure you are not breaching acknowledged rules of grammar. You need to make sure you can correctly spell those words you pronounce and enunciate so musically and enticingly. Besides that, remember speaking gains sense and meaning by gesticulation, body language, intonation and enunciation. All these linguistic decorative accompaniments are absent in writing. Therefore your writing must be solidly effective and uniquely flavoursome. Wearisome, uninspiring, humdrum writing is a chronic disease.
This verbal pandemic is responsible for our national low-pass rate syndrome.
We have too many students who cannot write skilfully and in some cases, hardly meaningfully. And much more of them who can only speak well but cannot write well. In case you have forgotten! Almost every year more than 75 percent, sometimes as many as 80 percent do not pass a minimum of five subjects in one sitting.
English teachers, listen! Pioneer linguistics scientists or researchers like Noam Chomsky talk about a Language Acquisition Device (LAD). This is a hypothetical module of the human mind posited to account for children’s innate predisposition for language acquisition...it is there embedded on the human brain...God given.
It is a tool hard-wired to help the child to rapidly learn and understand language.
This is the device that naturally enables children to learn speech fast. But there is no such device that naturally develops writing skills. This must come from the teacher.
It is a course which demands special techniques and skills. Never ever ignore this aspect of linguistic development.
Good writing presents more durable skills than good speaking. Good writing skills make examinations easier. Education revolves around good speaking, but is sustained by good writing. Good writers write for all...good speakers speak to a few. Lest you forget!