Online English Literacy

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Learning Formal English

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The College Board, the body responsible for a number of standardized exams, inclding the SAT, has defined a set of grammar rules which it regards as crucial to Formal Written English. Some of the rules in this list have been disputed, but in general, it is a solid set of grammar concepts and should definitely be studied by the would-be college student. There are several listings of these (See Grammar Rules Tested for on the SAT). Unfortunately, though these are essential tools in academia, most commonly heard speech violates them consistently, as mangled idioms, colloquialisms, syntactic mismatches, dangling and misplaced modifiers, confused and inconsistent tenses, misused words and unparallel constructs pollute much non-academic (and even academic) informal English so thoroughly that reliable sources of language worthy of emulation can be very hard to find. How can today's student hope to sense or feel the right way to express an idea when perpetually subjected to a verbal inundation of ill-formed syntax?

The idea is to educate, not follow anyone's schedule about when something should be studied. - Ray Drouillard

When listening to teachers in class or school meetings televised on community access channels, one is struck by the banality of the language even when the grammar is not irredeemably awful. What hope does the student have whose ears have been so thoroughly steeped in communication contaminated with misusage and largely bereft of any spark of inspired expression? With nothing but flawed and feeble verbal examples, an eloquence vacuum exists that no rules and theory of writing, no discussion of motifs and metaphors, no vocabulary lists can easily fill.

It is highly disconcerting to listen to television personalities, sports figures, politicians, school administrators and teachers, not to mention English, speech and writing teachers whose colloquial, malformed, disconnected ramblings blatantly violate this SAT language rule set with relentless consistency, and the problem is even greater among online education sites. There are, however, sources of good language online which parallel Formal Written English very closely. Never dreamt of just a few years ago, audio and video feeds of everything from audio books, news reports and lectures to debates, discussion, drama, and even formal instruction on every conceivable subject are accessible either freely or at least economically on the Internet (See Free University Resources and Spoken English Example Videos). Usually (but not always), the grammar, choice of words, use of metaphor, the language devices employed in these lectures serve as perfect examples of spoken formal English - that which is tested for in college entrance exams and demanded of college students - presented free online.

The idea is to educate, not follow anyone's schedule about when something should be studied. - Ray Drouillard

Abacus-es has been providing educational resources for many years (see About Us), including courses for homeschoolers at Excellence in Education, the definitive homeschool resource center in Monrovia, California.