For as long as I can remember I have always read.
I was that nerdy child who preferred to sit on my own with a book rather than play outside. Enid Blyton was my idol. I used to get 50p pocket money a week and that was a cost of an Enid Blyton book. If I wanted to read her books, I had to buy them. They were banned in libraries: “because of the alleged unchallenging nature of her writing and the themes of her books, particularly the Noddy series” (Wikipedia).
I loved English in school – Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Woodlanders, To Kill a Mockingbird. All the classics that still hold fond memories for me. “A” Level started to get a bit more challenging. I struggled with King Lear and Chaucer – thank goodness for Brodie’s Notes!
There is no doubt that reading from a young age dramatically increases your range of vocabulary, and improves your spelling, grammar and punctuation.
I see it in my children…I have a daughter who rarely reads, she is 21 and at university. Her spelling is still quite poor and sentence structure very simplistic.
My son is 17 and he has always been a reader and the difference from his sister is huge, he is much more articulate, and his writing is mature and accurate.
In the grand scheme of things, does it matter that my daughter’s English language skills are basic? Very much so. She runs the risk of losing vital marks in her essays and dissertation at university.
When she completes application forms and personal statements or updates her CV, I make sure she sends them to me to check through because first impressions are so important.
Remember you are up against a lot of competition so don’t throw away valuable opportunities with poor writing skills. It may be the content on your website, a flyer promoting a special offer or package, a client proposal or quote, or a simple social media post.
If spelling and grammar is something you struggle with, there are ways to develop these skills:
◾ Keep a list of the correct spelling of words that you constantly misspell
◾ Get into the habit of using a dictionary – never rely on spellchecker as it will not highlight words that are spelt correctly but are grammatically incorrect (eg their and there)
◾ Read. This doesn’t have to be books. Think of a topic you love and read articles, magazines and websites on that subject
◾ Do crosswords
◾ Online quizzes
◾ Learn the rules. There are lots of great books on Amazon. I would highly recommend “Have you eaten Grandma” by Gyles Brandreth. It’s not only informative but very entertaining
Good luck and get in touch if you need any further information or simply a fresh pair of eyes.