School Bans Phrases Including ‘Like’ To Raise Literacy Standards

by : Joe Harker on :
School Bans Phrases Including 'Like' To Raise Literacy StandardsAlamy

A secondary school in London has banned slang phrases and fillers including ‘like’ and ‘long’ in the hope it will raise literacy standards.

Ark All Saints Academy in Camberwell, South London, is hoping a ban on certain slang phrases will keep such language out of the classroom and exams, as the school says many of the words have been showing up in their pupils’ work.

Classroom (Alamy)Alamy

According to The Guardian, teachers don’t want their pupils starting sentences with ‘basically’, ‘like’, ‘you see’, ‘you know’, ‘because’, ‘no’, ‘say’ or ‘ermmm’ as they want to prepare students for more formal situations and believe such language might hold them back from success in their exams.

In 2019, a survey of 2,100 tutors found that ‘slanglish’ was the most common reason for students failing their English GCSEs.

The other phrases students aren’t allowed to say in the classroom are ‘he cut his eyes at me’, ‘oh my days’, ‘that’s a neck’, ‘oh my god’, ‘wow’, ‘bare’, ‘cuss’ and ‘that’s long’.


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Lucy Frame, principal of Ark All Saints Academy, told The Guardian: ‘The development of reading and speaking skills is a central part of what drives our school to help our students learn effectively and fulfil their potential in academic and non-academic ways.

‘None of the words or phrases listed are banned from general use in our school or when our students are interacting socially.’

Classroom (Alamy)Alamy

Not everybody is happy at the idea a school is clamping down on their students use of language. Several linguists have objected to efforts aimed at cracking down on the use of slang, arguing it is creative and warning against certain phrases being seen as bad use of language that could hold them back in life.


Dr Ian Cushing, a lecturer in education at Brunel University London, told the BBC: ‘There’s no incorrect or correct way of using language. Language is just one part of your identity – just the same way you wear your hair and clothes.

‘Shakespeare is full of slang and we don’t see teachers banning that – there’s a hypocrisy here, which is rooted in cultural and linguistic snobbery.’

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The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    Oh my days: linguists lament slang ban in London school