Outclassing natives 2

March 10, 2006

There is nothing surprising in the findings about British students' grammar and spelling. One could have predicted this from the reliance on word processors and the new language of mobile-phone text messaging. What has been measured as difference between British and overseas students is simply a time lag in the take-up of these devices.

Greater damage has been done in arithmetic. Had the experiment involved the numerical competence of undergraduates in the late 1980s, we would have made similar observations, but this difference has disappeared now that pocket calculators are equally cheap everywhere.

Mahesan Niranjan Sheffield University

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