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Yeah, but, no, but…

December 20, 2006

I don’t know if you’ve seen this report from the BBC. It makes for grim reading if you’re a teacher, not least because it is going to strike a chord of recognition in us all.

The study was carried out by Prof Tony McEnery of Lancaster University. One of his findings was that when ‘kids’ talk, you often find the words ‘no’ and ‘but’ beside each other. (It was called collocation when I were at uni!).

More frighteningly, he has come up with reasons for ‘kids’ lack of communication skills:

He put this down to a lack of training and the overuse of technologies such as computer games and MP3 players.

“This trend, known as technology isolation syndrome, could lead to problems in the classroom and then later in life.

I can hear the hacks at the Daily Mail firing up their computers already…

However, I love the irony in Prof McEnery’s solution: use a mobile phone! (Obviously no-one has pointed out to him that the average phone nowadays has computer games and MP3 players built in… not to mention browsers and diaries and…)

One can’t help but wonder if the good Prof would have come to a different conclusion if the report hadn’t been funded by Tesco… who just happen to be launching an internet phone tie-in with schools in England?

Sounds a bit like GLOW, but maybe with more carrier bags?


11 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2006 9:54 am

    The phrase ‘doomed to succeed’ springs to mind…

  2. December 20, 2006 12:36 pm

    Yeah, but…

  3. December 20, 2006 10:13 pm

    How old is Prof T. McEnery?

    Quote BBC:
    Like the Little Britain character the top 20 words used, including yeah, no, but and like, account for around a third of all words, the study says.


    My grammar is never creditable. However, never end a sentence in a preposition!

    I feel this should be engrained in children when they first incur literature.

    But hey, I am a Scientist.

    Glad I don’t teach English!!!


  4. December 21, 2006 4:39 pm

    I do teach English, though it often feels like a foreign language!

  5. December 21, 2006 8:15 pm

    Wait, you mean it’s not? Whoah, did I have the wrong idea!

  6. December 22, 2006 7:46 pm

    What is the properness of writing a sentence which includes a conjunction or whatever they’re called like ‘and’ and putting a comma after it, such as

    I’m Wilf, but, you’re not.

    I know that’s not a very good example of this because obviously there shouldn’t be a comma there, but should there never be a comma after but or and etc?

    Just wondering.

  7. January 14, 2007 12:12 pm

    As I’m not an English teacher I’m afraid I can’t continue this grammar-and-punctuation fest. However, as an ICT teacher (and promoter of ICT developments across all subjects) I think that there is a wider issue here about the place of technology in young people’s lives.

    Is there any causal link between children’s use of language and the technology they use. Or is this just another example of people’s fear of technology (a bit like the Faculty Leader who is going to try to disrupt my presentation at a meeting tomorrow with an accusation that his students’ blogging is actually hampering their education).

  8. January 14, 2007 12:13 pm

    Shit, I dropped a few question marks there. Mark me down.

  9. January 14, 2007 11:26 pm

    Hi Chris,
    Offhand, I don’t know if there is any empiric evidence to support langauge/technology… but I’d be surprised if there hasn’t been some research into the subject.

    As to your cynical colleague, I’ve posted some comments that may be useful on your own blog.


  10. January 16, 2007 12:45 am

    Cheers, Neil. The post from Bass Player is fantastic!

  11. kirkwood93 permalink
    January 19, 2007 9:38 pm

    Hello Mr W.I have found my way to your blog and do enjoy readin some of the post’s. Im getting rather good at this might i say.


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