Erroneous English publications - a crime
As an English teacher, I always encourage my students to read good
books. I step into a leading bookshop in my town to see whether there
were new arrivals. While I was just glancing through the innumerable
books that were exhibited on the shelves, a sales girl brought one
particular book on essays for primary grade and said, “This is a new
arrival.” Though I was looking for new language activity books, I just
went through the book offered.
Judge the book
Though we do not encourage anyone to ‘Judge the book by its cover’
the wordings on the back cover of that particular book was as follows;
‘I would like to thank with happy to Mr........ who is the owner of
.......... Publishing Institute, gave me this opportunity to publishing
my first children’s book in his institution. He always encouraged me to
writing this book and showed me the way how to write it.
the other hand I must admire and thank to the staff of ........ for
their dedication to success my book.
My dear sons and daughters of Grade 1, 2 and 3, I wrote this book for
you. I have used here a simple language and systems to getting
understand for you these essays very easy.
See, while you are reading this book, its pronunciation style is very
simple. I have taken the pronunciation of the words from a dictionary.
Here I have supplied the pronunciation and the meanings of the
difficult words at the end of the book. So you can take a great help
from it to getting understand these beautiful and meaningful, simple
Dear parents give your ideas and suggestions about this book get this
book and develop your children’s essay ability.’
I asked for a photocopy of this cover page, corrected all the
mistakes and sent to the publisher in Dankotuwa along with a letter
requesting him to be more responsible in publishing books especially for
children. Further, I requested him to get the books edited before
I was really concerned over this matter because the children and
especially the parents who buy such books assume any thing is English as
long as there are English letters and words. Since it is a national
crime, I rang up the publisher to ascertain the receipt of the letter
and his opinion of this publication. His answer stunned me. ‘I received
your letter and showed it to the teacher who wrote that book. He said he
used simple language for the little children to understand but not for
adults like you. More over we have been publishing this type of books
over the period of time but no one except you pointed out such mistakes.
If there are so much of mistakes how can there be such a good sale of
books?’ The publisher’s question is forwarded to you learned readers.
If this is the reality behind English education in Sri Lanka how can
the expected level of English education be achieved? How can we boast of
our English education? Innocent children who do not have an English
speaking background at home and even at school learn from their
textbooks and the supplementary readers bought by their parents. If the
parents are also uninformed, how can they provide their children with
opportunities or organize learning situations with such books at home?
The responsible authority who implement new strategies in achieving the
target of English education should pay attention to all the forces that
weaken their tremendous effort in re-awakening an era of English
educated English speaking generation again in Sri Lanka.
If shoddy publications hinder the standards of English education in
Sri Lanka, why does the authority remain silent allowing them print
books and earn money according to their whims and fancies? The book I
have brought to light could be one of thousands that are not of the
standard or of poor quality. Such publications destroy the English taste
and education of the innocent little children who learn what they read.
Though the saying goes ‘Reading maketh a full man’ how can such books
make the readers full? Such books easily fool the innocent children.
Books nourish the minds of the reader. How can such careless erroneous
writing nourish the tender minds of little ones? Their language
acquisition will also be hampered. Helen Keller says, “Truly each book
is as a ship that bears us away from the fixity of our limitations into
the movement and splendour of life’s infinite ocean.” Can this kind of
books stand firm with Helen Keller’s statement? Such poor quality books
are sinking ships. They destroy the little minds.
The writers’ and publishers’ main intention could be to make money by
hook or by crook. If they are not afraid to do what is wrong, why should
we be afraid to do what is correct?