English speakers in Australia have long been held as having an advantage in a globalised world. On the cusp of Asia, Australians could use their English skills to act as a bridge to the rest of the world.
But a report by the Group of Eight universities says English is now a basic skill, with up to two billion people now learning it as a second language. English is part of the curriculum in many countries and Australians are competing for jobs with people who are not only competent in English but in several other languages, leaving Australians at a distinct disadvantage.
But what is worse, foreigners could well end up writing English better than Australians. A recent SmartCompany/Roy Morgan Research poll shows the majority of bosses say that the grammar, spelling and writing of Gen-Ys compares badly to Gen-X and baby boomers.
And another report out today shows that the problem could be stemming from our schools. A spelling test of 40 Victorian teachers showed that not one teacher could spell all 11 words in the test – and the test was set at a level expected of 14 year olds.