Bad Grammar at University

Discussion in 'Community' started by oldschool, Feb 20, 2004.

  1. oldschool macrumors 65816

    oldschool

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    Sep 30, 2003
    #1
    I’m in my second year of University, working on a Microbiology major. For my MICB 202 course–medical microbiology and immunology–instead of a textbook, we have a “note package” written by PhD students. This book is filled with errors. I’m not picky about grammar or spelling but the errors hinder comprehension.

    There are agreement mistakes in every sentence, and spelling mistakes every fifth word.

    Example: “When a naïve CD4 T cells (known as T0 cells) has been activated by the interaction of TCR/MHC class II-peptide complex and binding of CD28/B7, exposure to different cytokines will influence wheter the T cell differentiates into a T1 or T2 cell.”

    Every sentence is like this, and there are also numerous conflicting pieces of information.

    These are PhD students; they should know how to form a proper sentence.

    Sorry I just had to vent, I’m having trouble understanding this as it is, and having to read and reread every sentence just to sift through the writing is getting on my nerves.

    Anybody else have experiences like this?
     
  2. MoparShaha macrumors 68000

    MoparShaha

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    #2
    It never ceases to amaze me how many college level students don't know how to properly write. I'm taking fairly high-level literature and composition classes, and you wouldn't believe the poor writing I have to put up with from my peers. I don't know how they're in the same class as me.
     
  3. oldschool thread starter macrumors 65816

    oldschool

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    #3
    When I was taking AP english in High School there was a large immigrant population, and nothing against them, but as a result of their strong presence the teachers changed the way they marked.

    Even in science I felt the changes. No longer were word problems emphasized, but instead pure calculations.
     
  4. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Hmmm. It does seem that there has been a shift in the world of English academics in the past 20 years or so.
    I remember in grade school when we had to write composition papers over and over and over again just to get it right.
    It seems that standards have slacked way off. Why this is the case remains a mystery. Lax cirriculums, standards, or bad teaching? A mixture of variables? Societal shift where video games, television, and internet lingo have taken their toll?

    Maybe people just READ less overall. By which I mean, read good literature where grammatical skill is still adhered to.
     
  5. King Cobra macrumors 603

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    Mar 2, 2002
    #5
    £ñglî$h ís √鮥 împø®†åñ† 2 LêÅ®ñ. :D :D

    A lot of recent textbooks have something called an anti-literacy factor. Basically, with the turn of a new year, authors increasingly expect the reader to "just get" what the author is talking about, so that the author can demonstrate a point. However, in demonstrating a point, which is often fairly valid, the derivation and/or reasoning used to get to it is often quick, unclear, relies on indirect references (i.e. "see Figure 17-3," which happens to be 12 pages back), or a combination of the three. With each progressing year, the presence of a clear derivation/reasoning for that point decreases, due to an author's increasing usage of quick, unclear, or indirect explanations. Hence, text wording becomes less explicit and harder for the reader to comprehend. As a result, the anti-literacy factor of the textbook increases, and reader comprehension of the text material decreases.

    The lack of explicit references/wording, such as the reference of Figure 17-3 being 12 pages back, is an extreme pet peeve of mine, which is why I think all recent textbooks, especially computer programming textbooks, suck. Computer programming textbooks, such as Java: Software Solutions: 3rd ed. by Lewis & Loftus, often skip over a section of code in every couple of programs provided in the book, or don't say a single word as to how a very specific concept, such as passing "this" as a JPanel parameter to a method, works. In fact, my pet peeve about this type of thing is so high that if I read a reader review that suggests even a hinting of a mention about something not explained clearly in a [programming] book, then I will not buy the book.

    As for the "note package" sentence structure, if I got some bulls*** like that, I would take the package up with someone from the English Department and suggest that all course reading materials be reviewed substantially and corrected.
     
  6. floatingspirit macrumors 6502

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    Seattle, WA
    #6
    Yeah, and how about the old "spell check will get it" or "grammar check will get it" for those on a computer...myabe they don't feel that they need to pay such close attention??
     
  7. floatingspirit macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Like me!

    (Is it bad form to quote oneself?!)
     
  8. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    iowa
    #8
    the english language is academically frozen in time. no change, no evolution. first time in history... of course, society changes, but is unable to pull language with it, as we've done such a good job of defining the rules and tightening the rivets that eventually language and society will clash more and more...

    until the strict regulation of english (and other languages of course) is gone, it will continue to decay compared to society.

    probably doesn't make sense, but i wholeheartedly believe it...

    paul
     
  9. alxths macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Aren't split infinitives grammatically incorrect? *Grammatically* being the key word, since it is correct in the sense that it successfully conveys a thought--the purpose of lanugage.

    I think a lot of people stick too closely to the rules of grammar; I guess it makes them feel smart, superior, or maybe they feel that since they've taken time to learn all these rules, others should have to as well. The reality is that every language is always changing and the best thing grammar can do is describe the most commonly used methods of speach at a given time; to use it to try and tell a whole society of people how they have to communicate is just pointless and boring.
     
  10. carbonmotion macrumors 6502a

    carbonmotion

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    #10
    Re: Bad Grammar at University


    Well alot of the PhD /Grad Students are not natively english speaking students. I know the Teaching Assistant for my economics prof at Umich is a immigrant from india. The packets that he handed out were atrocious in grammitical errors...alot of people complained...I did not, I mean cut the guy some slack, its not his native tongue.
     
  11. carbonmotion macrumors 6502a

    carbonmotion

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    #11
    ...wait, you meant you felt that the teacher changed the grading curve right? That may be caused your own social biases being applied to the situation. Unless you have hard grading trend based evidence you should probably not make accusations like that. You may not intend to sound racist, that is exactly how you sound. Sorry, I'm a sociology major, so I can't help but point that out.
     
  12. oldschool thread starter macrumors 65816

    oldschool

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    #12
    No...there were no curves in high school. I'm just saying that the large amount of people who couldn't speak english resulted in many people who couldn't even form a coherent sentence in an AP english class. This hindered discussions and basically made the teacher mark easier and totally disregard grammar.

    Come on, it was an AP english Honors class and the teacher had to go over agreement and pluralization. Thats not correct.
     
  13. carbonmotion macrumors 6502a

    carbonmotion

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    #13
    Wow, I can't believe they let people who held poor english skills in to an AP English class... Well, in that case, I retract my former acusations of race bias... It probably something your old high school needs to change. AP English for me was one of the most difficult classes to get in to in high school because we had to submit a essay and were judged wether we were worthy by the quality of our work. The class rejected 80% of the applicants and acutal class work was ultra demanding...however that all paid off when I poped two 5s on my AP Eng/Com and Eng/Lit exams. Similarly, my AP Physics class was not so challanging as 50% of the kids there had problems with trig and alg...since the prereq for that class is Pre-Calcuclus, it makes me wonder just how did all these kids get in to AP Calc having failed to learn the material in Pre-Calc. I mean back in High School I got a B- in precalc and still managed to get a B in AP Physics (I was able to solve those equations with relative ease while alot of other people struggled)...sigh, the american education system needs to be standardized like europe and asia!
     
  14. oldschool thread starter macrumors 65816

    oldschool

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    #14
    I should have mentioned i'm in Canada. There is a huge asian population in my School. In my AP chemistry class i was the only white guy (it was a class of 60 between two sections). I was quite proud of that actually, and all the other students always joked around that I shouldn't be there.

    I guess because it's Canada, people don't feel any racial tensions, and wouldn't even think about racism as an issue.
     
  15. oldschool thread starter macrumors 65816

    oldschool

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    #15
    Oh, also, to get into AP english all we needed was 75%. Congratulations on getting a 5 on that exam though, all I pulled off was a 4.
     
  16. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #16
    As someone who has taught college English for a year, I can say that not only do college freshmen have problems with grammar, but also English M.A. students. These are people who are seeking advanced degrees in a subject, and don't even understand its rudiments.

    That said, the most important thing students learn in an English composition class is not grammar, but how to form an effective argument. Many "foreign" or "nonstandard" English speakers are actually more effective than "native speakers." One of my worst students ever was a white supremacist.
     
  17. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    Los Angeles
    #17
    I tend to notice every misspelling, every mismatched plural, every awkward phrase, and most every other mistake in whatever I read. That's just how I am. I'm a good proofreader and sometimes do it as part of my work. I'm careful about my writing, both where it counts (technical writing) and also where it doesn't matter (chat, forums). The former is important to make a good impression on others who matter at school or work. The latter is silly and I realize that I should spend less time worrying about "weather" I used the wrong word. ;)

    I went to a school awards presentation one day this week. The first thing I did, as usual, was check the program for typos. I don't report them to anyone other than the people I went with, but I just can't help looking for them and feeling better that I checked.

    On the other hand, I try very hard not to point out other people's faults, especially in casual written conversation. My guiding rule is "grammar and spelling in chats and posts don't matter, as long as you get your point across". But I don't apply it to myself, because **I** feel bad if I'm ungrammatical, unless I'm in a necessary hurry for some reason.

    I think some people have a natural ability to remember spellings and absorb language rules and others just aren't as good at it. They are probably better at something else.

    And I would never complain about the English of a non-native speaker, lest they have me try writing in any non-English language!
     
  18. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

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    #18
    Re: Re: Bad Grammar at University

    You'd be surprised though. A lot of my relatives back in India--excellent grammar. Really, they speak and write better English than most Americans I know. Keep in mind that for many foreign students (especially the ones who will be hitting up American grad schools within the next few years), English WAS taught as, essentially, a native language.

    The quality of English that I expect from South Asian immigrants is actually quite high. Many of them are well-versed in the language.
     
  19. carbonmotion macrumors 6502a

    carbonmotion

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    #19
    hey sorry...didnt know you were from canada. A socilogist's wet dream... sigh why can't we have you lack of racial tension/socialized medical system?
     
  20. Roger1 macrumors 65816

    Roger1

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    #20
    Re: Bad Grammar at University


    Pardon my ignorance. I "see" something wrong with this quote, but I can't point it out. Care to share?:eek:

    edit: reread the quote; found at least one -"whether", and possibly "has" is used incorrectly in the first part of the sentence. Any others?


    Pardon by poor speling, I learnd englich as a primary languich.
     
  21. oldschool thread starter macrumors 65816

    oldschool

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    #21
    Re: Re: Bad Grammar at University


    The first part "When a naive cells has been activated" should be "when naive cells HAVE been activated"

    One or two sentences like this shouldn't matter, but when its the whole book, it gets in the way of comprehension. Especialy when the subject is so detailed in the first place.
     
  22. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    Jul 9, 2000
    #22
    Re: Bad Grammar at University

    a word on graduate students in the sciences...they are not going to go out and become english professors ;)

    when a student gets to the gradoote level, it is usually about specializing in one narrow nishe of one narrow subject...they are there to become specialists in there field...many fields do not require good english or comunicattion skills and some fields are dominated by imigrants who already have a terrible time with english ;)

    as time goes on and certain science based majors become more and more internationalized in us schools, the grammer goofs you see are only going to get worse
     
  23. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #23
    One time when I haven't minded bad spelling by students: when I've gotten a thank-you note, e.g., "Thank you for helping us lairn about cumputers". Of course, those were usually from elementary school kids, who can get away with it because they're cute. Still, I'm glad I'm not their English teacher getting such a note!
     
  24. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

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    Jan 1, 2004
    #24
    It isn't at all uncommon for higly intelligent people (think Mr. Gates) to have difficulty with spelling and grammar.

    Their minds work with numbers and letters for solving problems. Spelling and Grammar is for us lesser beings ;)
     
  25. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

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    #25
    Re: Re: Bad Grammar at University

    The Language Arts curriculum (new) in the school district I work in is loaded with various errors. Specifically in workbooks and on overheads!
     

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