WI have noticed that the standard of the English language in the Ghanaian society has fallen drastically. Therefore, it is common these days to find grammatical errors in textbooks and storybooks authored for school children.
Undeniably, reading textbooks and storybooks devoid of grammatical errors helps schoolchildren to speak and write good English. In contrast to this, it is completely fruitless for schoolchildren to read books that are fraught with grammatical errors. Hence, those who author textbooks and storybooks for schoolchildren must be very mindful of their grammar.
It is noteworthy that children pick whatever signals we send, and use them correctly if we are correct and wrongly if we are wrong.
Recently, my 10-year-old daughter brought a storybook from school and there were many grammatical errors in it. For example, I found wrong expressions like 'the strong is . . .' instead of 'the strong are . . .'; 'the weak is . . .' instead of 'the weak are . . .' and 'the poor is . . .' instead of 'the poor are . . .'
In grammar, if an adjective is preceded by the definite article 'the', the article and the adjective convey an idea of plurality and as a result take a plural verb. The words 'strong', 'weak' and 'poor' are adjectives. Therefore, the expressions 'the strong', 'the weak' and 'the poor' generally stand for strong people, weak people and poor people, respectively.
Additionally, I found wrong expressions such as 'all what' instead of 'all that'; 'at loggerhead' instead of 'at loggerheads'; 'casted' instead of 'cast'; 'infront of' instead of 'in front of'; 'fed up of' instead of 'fed up with', among other grammatical errors.
More seriously, last month, my daughter brought home an English grammar book and there were grammatical errors in it as well. In fact, I am highly perturbed based on the fact that the book is on grammar.
Aside grammatical mistakes, the book, which was authored by three persons, is full of wrong punctuation. The authors don't even know the difference between a colon and a semicolon, for which reason the incorrect use of a semicolon instead of a colon runs through the book consistently.
Besides, they consistently punctuated the word 'that' with a comma. Example: “The reason this tree fell is that, it had rotted” instead of “The reason this tree fell is that it had rotted.”
I noticed the following incorrect expressions in the book: 'Call to Glory' instead of 'Called to Glory'; 'synonymous to' instead of 'synonymous with'; 'loose' instead of 'lose'; 'Ghana import . . .' instead of 'Ghana imports . . .'; 'in my best of knowledge' instead of 'to my best of knowledge', among other errors.
Having gone through the book painstakingly, I noticed that the authors didn't do enough research before printing it, for which reason they claim certain correct English expressions are incorrect. Besides, they mixed British English with American English.
In the September 15, 2018, edition of the 'Daily Guide' newspaper, a former Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, wrote an article entitled: “Dead Knowledge In Our Schools: Who Is Checking The Textbooks?”
In the said article, he stated: “We don't need only English courses to improve students' grasp of the language. Every textbook, in one form or another, contributes to the teaching of English. Badly written textbooks, therefore, undermine the teaching of English. Educators must appreciate these inter-linkages and ensure only the highest editorial standards across all textbooks. A national policy may also be required to settle on which English spelling to use in our schools: British, as has historically been the case, or American, which is now the default on most computers and electronic devices. We need consistency.”
Dr. Nii Moi Thompson couldn't have said it better and I strongly concur with him. Undoubtedly, he raised very relevant points that deserve much attention.
The issue at stake is worse in private schools, as private school operators seem to accept textbooks and storybooks from authors without making sure that the books are up to standard. Obviously, this situation is disadvantageous to schoolchildren.
Imparting inaccurate knowledge to our children is counterproductive and dangerous! Private school operators shouldn't assume that every textbook and storybook is useful. Mediocrity in written English shouldn't be encouraged at all! Gone are the days when it was not common to find grammatical errors in textbooks and storybooks.
Now, my questions are: Can anybody author books for schoolchildren? Who checks for grammatical errors in textbooks and storybooks before they are printed? Why don't we have an accredited proofreading department or institution where books are proofread before they are printed and approved for schoolchildren? Over to the Ghana Education Service! I rest my case.
The writer is a proofreader
Writer's E-mail: [email protected]
By Anthony Kwadwo Kyei
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."