As you know I am slowly and painfully trying to learn Portuguese. Since I am away most of the time, I coerce any Brazilian I meet working on a cruise to give me a bit of help. The embarrassing thing is that they invariably end up teaching me English grammar instead of Portuguese! I’m quite serious. It’s only since I started learning a second language I realise how much I need to know my pluperfects from my subjunctives. Now, I may be imagining this, but I do not recall being taught English grammar or spelling at school. I was born in 1970 and have been told that it was Government educational policy not to worry about how students expressed their ideas, but rather that their ideas and creativity were stimulated, unencumbered by the formalities and intricacies of the English language. Testimony to this is that I managed to pass my ‘O’ level English exam a year ahead of everyone else in the school without knowing what a verb was or being able to spell. As I type this the page is awash the wavy red lines (I even just spelled wavy with two vs). Thank goodness for spellchecker! I does seem remarkable that this could be allowed to happen. In having to spend my time now, learning grammar I do feel rather let down. When I hear policy makers boasting about their “radical educational reforms” I can’t help wonder that such radical changes are an admission of previous failings, leaving another generation of children let down by the system. Can’t we just first concentrate on giving kids a solid, tried and tested foundation in the basics?
So is there any truth to all of this or is it just me rationalising why I am crap at spelling?