The lost art of reading


Many office managers, Human Resource officers or those people whose task it is to interview and screen job applicants are one in their observation that young people seem to be less articulate in expressing themselves in the English language.

These young job applicants, mostly fresh graduates, seem to be afflicted with the same “disease”—poor grammar. This should be a surprise, considering that for years, we Filipinos have bragged to the world that we are proficient in the King’s language.

But then, some people, especially those claiming to be nationalists, may say, is English important?

Heck yes, when one aspires to land a decent (and well-paying) job, one that can keep body and soul together.

These days, knowing a smattering of English won’t get a job seeker anywhere. And woe to an applicant who brandishes his atrocious grammar during that all-important job interview. Unless the company he applied with has an extensive program to train prospective employees (even business process outsourcing companies weed out trainees who can’t straighten their English after several weeks of lectures and on-the-job-training), the chances of a job applicant who mangles the English language is nil.

So why the disappointing trend? Why is it that even those who graduated cum laudes can’t seem to polish their English? Why is it that majority of students can’t seem to make their subjects and verbs agree, insert a comma where it belongs, or write a decent composition?

Perhaps this malady can be traced to the laziness of young people to read. These days, children would rather spend time socializing with friends, many of whom they can only talk to or see online. The invasion of tablets, smartphones and laptops had virtually rendered useless those humble and unsophisticated “gadgets” that once taught, entertained and honed the proficiency of earlier generations—books. It is ironic that while a smartphone or tablet can contain hundreds of tomes—one simply has to download those thousands of free e-books or buy books for as low as P10 each online—the young people of today seem to have lost the interest to read. Or if they do read, they seem unable to sharpen their knowledge of English or improve their grammar.

Since the job of formally educating students falls on schools, teachers, especially those who handle grammar or English subjects, should exert extra effort in instructing their wards. Extreme care should be taken during the early, formative years, when mistakes are easier to correct and students are more receptive to instruction.

Perhaps what this country needs, aside from moral and ethical resurrection, is a reading revolution. Teachers and parents should help each other to succeed in one mission: regain the lost art of reading. Let’s get young people start reading books again. But first, let’s get their noses out of those tablets and smartphones.

(The author is the Secondary School Principal II of Ipil National High School in Gonzaga, Cagayan)


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