• Germany's news in English
 

Many students 'lack basic writing skills'

The Local · 23 Jul 2012, 16:54

Published: 23 Jul 2012 16:54 GMT+02:00

Students starting out in the world of academia seemed to be having problems with basic spelling and grammar. Many lack the ability to form a sentence, said Gerhard Wolf who took part in the survey.

”It is also a problem that some students lack the ability to formulate ideas and to write cohesive texts,” he said.

Wolf, who is based at the University of Bayreuth, was one of 135 humanities professors who took part in the survey which up until now had remained unpublished.

The language professor has called for universities to offer “prep courses” which could bring students up to scratch before entering higher education.

Secondary and tertiary education institutions should be more aware of what their students are learning, and how. This would mean putting more emphasis on comprehension and grammar, he said.

Successfully structuring an argumentative essay was proving too tricky for many students, said Wolf. Many students also appeared to have difficulty collecting their ideas and analysing them verbally.

Part of the problem was an ever decreasing vocabulary, he suggested, which limited the ability to formulate logical arguments.

Many professors said they often spotted phrases in essays which their students had obviously heard, but not understood, and were using incorrectly.

Lack of focussed concentration was another common problem, with professors reporting that ever more students were coming into lectures with the attitude that they could just look everything up on the internet later.

The damning results have sparked debate among German academics about the standard of teaching in the country's grammar schools.

The survey was initiated at a national meeting of philosophy professors last year. Over 135 professors from 62 German universities took part in the survey.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

18:01 July 23, 2012 by William Thirteen
what? they lack basic reading, writing and comprehension skills? well, that certainly won't be a bar to participating on the forums here!
18:07 July 23, 2012 by Englishted
i kant sea that them ah talking rubish .
18:31 July 23, 2012 by IchBinKönig
German Univeristy don't care about riting. As long as students are strong 'Critical Theorists', all else can be overlooked.
19:58 July 23, 2012 by auslanderus
I have a teacher friend that has been telling these same things now for 10 years. Kids don't read the paper and when asked about the news, they know nothing. Plus when writing anything it's unreadable. When it comes to math, take away the calacator, there lost. When there parents are told about there sweet children, they say it's not there job to teach there kids but the schools. When will people wake up and make changes?
20:23 July 23, 2012 by rwk
Auslanderus: Pot, Kettle, Black. Please look up the proper usage of there/they're. learn how to use an apostrophe for indicating possession. That is only an introduction to the errors you have made in English. I hope your command of the German language is better.

I wonder how much of the errors this survey has caught are correct in on dialect of German (Plattdeutsch) but not in the standard Hochdeutsch. Platt is dying out, so that problem ought to correct itself, but only as a new one arises, and that is people of an 'immigrant background'. Sure, many of them have good command of German, but many do not.
08:47 July 24, 2012 by bbcheen
This would be one explanation why years of education and money spent on a Bachelor degree (regardless of subject) or often even a Master degree (e.g. biology, politics) does not mean you're going to find a job.

Most are left with no choice but to earn a PhD- something that used to be far more elite than it is today. Germany and USA are becoming PhD factories as a way to get cheap research labor. Hire 2 PhDs instead of 1 researcher, or better yet use PhD students to do a job that normally a laboratory technician would do for you. It's all a vicious chain and then people wonder why the youth are having an employment crisis.
08:49 July 24, 2012 by Ozichick
@Auslanderus - your English linguistics skills are appalling. Might I suggest you buy a basic grammar text and a picture dictionary to get you started? Perhaps your "teacher friend" could give you some lessons to save you some embarrassment, particularly when commenting on educational issues in foreign newspapers.
13:24 July 24, 2012 by William Thirteen
hehe, point proven!
14:05 July 24, 2012 by Floriansamsel
@rwk & Ozichick

Don't be so rude if you please!

What is really appalling is that German students cannot read and write their mother language properly, we are not talking of foreign languages. However, this is nothing new and that's what auslanderus meant to say.

These are the impacts of our Internet society, a society that gives kids nothing but mobile phones and computer games.
15:59 July 24, 2012 by auslanderus
Of my "linguistic skill's" is not the point I was making here. It's about the student's that "your" school's are putting out. Don't pick me apart when you should be going to your school's and asking what's going on. These are your future worker's, lawyer's and educator's. Or is it that you care not about the future of this country and it's people? As they say, all talk, no action.

Thank you Kloriansamel.
00:19 July 25, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ auslanderus

Good Point's!
01:39 July 25, 2012 by Ozichick
As a senior English teacher students whose language skills are the most appalling are the very ones who sit at the back of the class and engage in private conversation with those around them instead of following the lesson and going beyond that which is taught in class: some honest home study on a regular basis.

Students at the senior level are far too busy playing games and downloading so many more "interesting" things on their laptops to bother with classwork knowing that when it's exam time, they can always find a scapegoat on whom to lay the blame for their ineptitude: the teacher.

Unfortunately too many students have shoe sizes that far exceed their IQ and the tragedy is that teachers are gagged when it comes to dealing with their parents.

Care to blame the system a little more Auslanderus?
02:40 July 25, 2012 by J.C.Jensen
As a Canadian citizen who has an interest in Europe in general, and in Germany and the UK in particular,I can only conclude that the problem under discussion in this forum, exists as much in this country as in the 2 European ones. I would go so far as to say that at least one of every three Canadians is incapable of expressing himself in his own language.From what I have seen the English situation is even more dire. My belief is that the German level is probably higher. For now at least.
15:31 July 27, 2012 by Bruno53
Embarrassing for a country that gave us Schiller, Grimm Brothers, Goethe and Hegel. They must be shaking in their graves. And blame it to electronic media. And we have the same problem here in USA. But it is worse!
22:37 July 30, 2012 by friedenstempel
Come on, professors and their aides always try to torture the students with their own scientific jargon, idiosyncratic essay rules and abitrary writing standards.

When I took the time to get a text right I got bad marks, because the style was non-standard, didn't include all the sloppy thought of the jargon the reviewers were used to.

Real primary research violates all rules of teutonic cruelty and positive science. We need more Humboldt, less sheep and cattle.
10:50 July 31, 2012 by wenddiver
That negative stuff about reading and writing doesn't take into account that the Students spend most of their day in Cultural Studies classes learning a cannibal in Borneo has just as much to offer the world as a German or American Medical Scientist and that their parents marriage is equal to two gay mens.

My Sister's Kids school gives out awards every month and every kid gets one, every time!!! My nephew comes to my house and looks at my and his ancestors militay awards and my MMA trphies and doesn't get the idea that not everybody gets them. The concept of winning and losing is completely alien to him!

The score keepers are probably just mad that the Students have so much better scores in playing Grand Theft Auto, and so many more Facebook friends than they do.
Today's headlines
The photojournalist making news intimate
World Press Photo winner Mads Nissen. Photo: DPA

The photojournalist making news intimate

13 hours ago

Photographer Mads Nissen’s World Press Photo of the Year is currently touring Germany and the world. It’s a provocative image of two Russian gay men and one that some say is changing the definition of photojournalism.

Six athletics world champs head to Berlin
ISTAF is held annually in Berlin. File Photo: DPA

Six athletics world champs head to Berlin

13 hours ago

six world champions, freshly crowned from Beijing, will be gracing Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Sunday in the annual ISTAF track-and-field meet.

A week after heatwave, snow falls in Bavaria
Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain. File Photo: DPA

A week after heatwave, snow falls in Bavaria

13 hours ago

From 30C to snow in under a week? It's possible in Germany where seven centimetres of the white stuff fell at the top of the Bavarian Alps on Friday.

Oktoberfest and the Refugee Crisis
Munich plans to keep revellers, refugees apart
Police and refugees at Munich Central Station. Photo: DPA

Munich plans to keep revellers, refugees apart

13 hours ago

Police in Munich are preparing a significant operation to ensure that drunken revelers at Oktoberfest are kept away from refugees arriving at the city's central station from Budapest.

Criminal had time for pit stop in 20-cop-car chase
Photo: DPA

Criminal had time for pit stop in 20-cop-car chase

17 hours ago

With 21 police cars and a helicopter hot on his heels, it seemed unlikely that police in Düsseldorf would fail to catch one rogue motorist. But after a two-hour pursuit, that's exactly what happened in the early hours of Friday.

What's keeping Germans awake at night in 2015?
The Greek debt crisis has been haunting German dreams. Source: Wikipedia

What's keeping Germans awake at night in 2015?

1 day ago

Having to cough up for the excesses of spendthrift southern Europeans is the fear most likely to haunt German nightmares in 2015. But getting caught up in a natural disaster isn't far behind, an annual survey shows.

This Week in History
The death of a great humanitarian
Schweitzer spent most of his later years at Lambaréné. Photo: DPA

The death of a great humanitarian

1 day ago

On September 4th 1965, the world lost one of its most dedicated and tireless humanitarians, as Albert Schweitzer died in the African hospital he had created and cherished for over 50 years. A hospital that continues to save lives today.

Refugee crisis
Pro-refugee group push punk classic to no. 1
Die Ärzte singer and drummer Bela B. with a DVD titled "not interested in Nazis" in 2009. Photo: DPA

Pro-refugee group push punk classic to no. 1

18 hours ago

Under the banner of "Arsehole Action", activists campaigning against xenophobia and hatred of refugees have pushed a 1993 hit by punk band Die Ärzte mocking the far right to the top of Germany's charts.

Refugee Crisis
Orban: Muslims threaten European identity
Viktor Orban, guardian of Europe? Photo: DPA

Orban: Muslims threaten European identity

20 hours ago

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned Thursday that the wave of mostly Muslim refugees coming to Europe threatens to undermine the continent's Christian roots - an idea rejected by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Football fan given 18 months for lighting flare
Football fans set of a flare. File Photo: DPA

Football fan given 18 months for lighting flare

20 hours ago

Germany is continuing its zero tolerance approach to football supporters lighting flares in Bundesliga grounds after a Schalke supporter was jailed for 18 months on Thursday with no parole.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Features
How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
Sport
German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Travel
Retiree finds parked car after three-week search
National
Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Business & Money
German gadget clamps down on Nutella thieves
Society
Is Germany now a nation of couch potatoes?
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,913
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd