An English educational website


I’ve just come across this website:

It contains an amazing amount of information about Britain, its history, geography, etc, including the way in which the Union flag was developed, stage by stage, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen so clearly set out anywhere else. It’s a shame, therefore, that no one has thought to check the quality of the English in the text.

This is a website written for primary school children, at a very impressionable stage of their education, when exposure to well-written, well-spelled (or spelt?) and well-punctuated Standard English is most likely to influence their own practice. This is not a call for prescriptivism in language, but a recognition that whatever linguists may say about the acceptability of non-standard forms of language, and the arbitrary norms that have been set up for spelling and punctuation, in the real world, when these children come to look for jobs, they will be judged at least partly on their ability to produce English which conforms to these norms. Apart from the deliberate orthographic oddity of Jack Windsor Lewis’s blog, I do not know of any linguist who writes anything other than standard English, using capital letters, apostrophes, and all its the other paraphernalia in the conventional way.

“Primaryhomeworkhelp”, even in its headings, ignores these conventions, having sections on “topics including tudors, victorians, romans“. There is a large section on literacy, and perhaps fortunately, given the quality of the English elsewhere on the site, this consists entirely of links to other sites, many of which no longer work. Other examples of errors: “Through out the ages”; “Brittania”; “Arial” (for “Aerial”). Among the Romans, apparently “Men wore a knee-length tunic (chilton)… Rich boy’s wore a toga”.

These may all simply be typos, but as this is an educational site, some proof-reading really ought to have been carried out. Meanwhile, I suppose I am now liable for breach of copyright, as the final sentence on each page states “You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the author.” No mention of acceptable usage for review purposes.

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