Plain Words
Training Bulletin
issue 5

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Editor Recommends:

The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar

The Oxford A-Z of Spelling

Training Bulletin Issue 5

Welcome to the fifth issue of The Training Bulletin. In this issue we look at how the quality of English teaching in school affects the way you do your job.

‘Let it all hang out’

There was a period in the 1970s and 1980s when English teachers promoted free expression at all costs: they virtually ignored the basic framework of language – grammar, spelling and punctuation. Andrew Motion, quoted in a recent article in The Independent about literacy in schools, referred to these teachers as the ‘let it all hang out’ school. In the same article, Julia Strong, deputy director of the National Literacy Trust, conceded that even now older teenagers and university students are handicapped by a poor grasp of basic grammar. In other words, formal English language teaching is still falling short in our schools.

But why does it matter?

It matters because businesses and the public sector suffer the consequences of poor English teaching.

A Royal Mail survey calculated that dodgy writing skills could be costing offending firms a staggering £2bn in lost contracts! Poorly-written letters and literature were a major turn off. Unbelievably, even overcharging was seen as a less serious business-loser than missing an apostrophe. Bosses said they would not do business with a firm that couldn't weed out grammatical mistakes as it showed a lack of professionalism.

And it’s not only clients that are turned off. Highlighting a colleague’s grammatical errors can be used to undermine the writer’s otherwise valid argument. In fact, some people fear being ridiculed so much that they will do anything to avoid writing a report or important letter.

So, good grammar, spelling and punctuation DOES matter. It affects the way your peers and superiors perceive you and it affects your company or organisation’s success. Don’t let your career suffer because of a poor command of English. Learn how to express yourself in a professional way.

Don’t forget your free £100 Amazon voucher with P3

P3 is the Plain Points Plan. Every time you attend a Plain Words course you gain 25 points. If you recommend a colleague you earn 15 points when he or she attends a course. Once you have accumulated 100 points you will receive an Amazon voucher worth £100!

When, where and how much

Our courses are held in Berkshire, Shropshire and London. For dates and venues see the schedule page.

The price is £425 + VAT per person for a one-day intensive course and £795 + VAT for a two-day workshop.

We also offer private courses at your premises. Please call 01235 60 30 22 for details.

How do I book?

To book, call Abi on 01235 60 30 22 ext 28 or use the booking form.

Editor recommends

There are plenty of good books around to help you untangle the vagaries of English grammar and spelling. Here are a couple…

The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar by R.L Trask describes itself as a ‘clear, succinct and up-to-date dictionary, which covers virtually every significant grammatical term…ideal for teachers, students and anyone who wants to write correctly (without sounding old-fashioned or fussily pedantic)’. It costs £7.95 and is available on-line from

The Oxford A-Z of Spelling by Catherine Soanes and Sheila Ferguson is like a dictionary of difficult words. It includes 2,000 commonly misspelled words and hundreds of spelling tips to help you understand the basic rules – and why there are so many exceptions to them. It’s available from for £4.79.