Back to Index

US: English language instruction

Whereas in most courses, papers are hastily graded by assistants, at Stanford I worked with each student until his paper was adequate from the viewpoint of English as well as content. It took a lot ot time. Good students appreciated it, but not those who saw nothing wrong with bad writing. Tom Grey sends this note, which is disturbing since Iowa has been the most literate state in America: "In the Rhetoric Department at Iowa instructors who tried to actually teach writing and therefore generated many student complaints were offered out of their contracts--that is, forced out--because the chair and assistant chair didn't want to deal with student complaints. "" writes: "Consider the costs of tough grading - spending more time correcting papers, extra time spent arguing grades with students and the extra effort it takes to design challenging tests and assignments".

Good English, clearly written and clearly spoken, is essential for English to function as the global language. TV has led to a precipitous decline in this regard. Most TV English is simply ugly. Since our universities have become largely public relations operations, administrations lay heavy stress on an instructor's popularity.

Ronald Hilton - 1/15/03