Before social networking sites, tweets, posts, emails and texts, there were letters.
Call me a geek (and this is clearly outside the brief of this blog!) but in the school holidays it was not unusual for me to churn out a dozen letters a week to friends who lived all over the South Island. While at primary school, I submitted a request for a penpal via the awesome but now defunct NZ children’s magazine Jabberwocky and received hundreds of replies. Letter writing was just something I did.
Not surprisingly given the competing demands on children’s time, letter writing is no longer the done thing, as a recent article in the Guardian “revealed” (?!).
The simple act of writing and sending a letter could be a useful activity for junior students to build/develop basic grammar, syntax and spelling skills. Receiving a letter the old-fashioned way via the post might be a new experience for some of them but I suspect most would get a kick out of it.
Catching up with fellow English student teachers this week, most expressed a genuine surprise at the low levels of spelling and grammar skills in schools across the board – although some are also quick to admit this is an area they also need to hone their skills in.
Such skills are vital if junior students are to become effective writers and communicators at senior level, and then possibly tertiary levels. It also seems that essay writing is a task many senior students struggle with.
It struck me that a letter writing exercise could help to build those skills before moving onto more public arenas such as blogs where mistakes, although quickly rectified, are published to potentially a much wider audience.