Pet peeve: writing the way you speak

It’s the end of the first week of classes here in online land where we interact with classmates in discussion boards and class forums and get graded on content as well as grammar and spelling. I happen to be excellent with grammar and spelling, so that part is always aces for me (and the students at the local school where I sub have been known to hunt me down and have me look over their papers when something of importance needs to be handed in). The annoying thing is not that I post my college stuff early in the week with maybe only one other person to interact with and then all the last-minute-Charlies finally check in on the due date and the course requires that we read everybody’s posts, so there blows my Sunday afternoons. People take online classes to have a flexible schedule and I’m cool with that, so just because I’m uber-prompt and OCD about it doesn’t mean I look down on others who procrastinate.

The pet peeve part is that waaaaayyyyyy too many people taking college level courses still cannot write even high school level sentences. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Bad spelling is one thing because everybody slips up once in awhile. I’m talking about something I was just reading written by someone who was posting about how they felt about something the class was discussing in a business course. The man wrote:

The employees of a company fill that they are slaves to there own job. Day in and day out, we work, eat lunch, work a little more and go home while the stockholder sit at home and reap what we have worked so hard to do. And if they fill like we have not made them enough money for them, they just close the business down or move it out of the country all together.

That is the beginning of a direct quote copied and pasted off the forum page. How many errors did you find in that paragraph? I will give him credit in his consistency, but OMG – did this guy’s English teacher never ride him about the difference between how we speak and pronounce words versus how those words are actually spelled being important in written communication???

When communicating your thoughts and ideas in writing, whether as a business proposal, a research paper, a marketing campaign or a solicitation to potential stockholders to financially back your said ideas, please, please, please pay attention to your presentation. It may “sound good” when spoken aloud, but remember that words float away on the wind after they’ve been spoken. But…. if you look like an idiot on paper, that piece of paper can be filed away for many years and pulled out again and again, thus keeping the “idiot” impression you made in the first place last.

DON’T wait until the last minute to write your papers and forum posts. DON’T “wing it” and toss junk or “it’ll do’s” out there in writing – people are reading it and judging you based on what they see you put in print. DON’T post college-level discussions in informal, colloquial styles of speech; rather, DO write it out first as though you were going to hand it in as a written essay assignment. DO have someone else read it over who is better at spelling and grammar than you are, if you need that kind of help. Finally, DO get a refresher book and study it if you didn’t pay that much attention in school as to what grammar and sentence structure mean and how to wield them to make you look as smart in writing as you are inside.

Presenting yourself professionally (i.e., with proficient vocabulary and grammar that demonstrate mastery of the English language) wields enormous clout in getting ahead.

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