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'Indians' English better than the British'

Many undergrads in UK varsities have such low competence with spelling, punctuation and grammar that despairing lecturers often spend time teaching the basics of English to the English.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2008 17:57 IST

Students from India and other former colonies have better English language skills compared to their local British counterparts, academics feel.

Many undergraduates in British universities have such low competence with spelling, punctuation and grammar that despairing lecturers often spend time teaching the basics of English to the English.

Lecturers say that international students from India and other former colonies often have higher standards of basic English than their British colleagues in the same classroom.

Some of the most common mistakes are in spelling, often using 'their' when students mean 'there', 'who's' for 'whose', 'truely' for 'truly', 'occured' for 'occurred' and 'speach' for 'speech'.

An Indian-origin university lecturer told PTI that British students even in their second year of degree study, use "atrocious" English language in their assignments.

He said that he often found it challenging to figure out what students wanted to express in English. International students, in contrast, had better English language skills, he added.

English language standards have deteriorated to such an extent that one leading academic has been forced to ignore common errors altogether.

Ken Smith, a senior lecturer in criminology at Bucks New University, told The Daily Telegraph that many students failed to apply basic rules, such as 'i' before 'e', except after 'c'. The words 'weird', 'seize', 'leisure' and 'neighbour' are regularly misspelt by students, he said.

Some universities have already extended courses by a year to give weak students extra tuition in core subjects that they failed to pick up in the classroom.