Accent on pupils talking properly

IT MIGHT be different on the streets but students at a Sheffield secondary school are being urged to drop the slang and local dialect in the classroom.

It’s part of a drive to encourage pupils of Sheffield Springs Academy in Arbourthorne to speak properly and to help them in interviews for jobs.

Some parents are concerned that the traditional Sheffield tongue may be being curtailed. One mum said students had been told to stop talking ‘Sheffieldish’ by principal Elaine Cropper.

“Apparently if she hears anyone say ‘abaat’, as in ‘about’, she explodes. A few weeks ago she explained to the kids that she was brought up on a poor estate and that if she can succeed, everyone can.”

But Kathy August, deputy chief executive of United Learning Trust, the charity which runs the school, said: “We are not trying to stop them speaking with an accent or get them all speaking the same – I’m a proud Lancastrian myself.

“I understand that some parents will be defensive if they think we are trying to get rid of the Sheffield accent but that isn’t the issue – it’s about communicating effectively.”

Ms August said it was intended to encourage students to develop their communication and employability skills and to improve their confidence.

“When you are in the classroom, or talking to visitors, then you are in a work situation and you are expected to speak formally.”

Nobody was going to be listening for pupils’ conversations at other times.

But she added: “Too many young people are used to texting and talking slang all the time. They need to understand that in interviews and other formal situations that is not advisable.”

Dr Emma Moore, Sheffield University’s subject director in English language and linguistics, said historically people with regional dialects had suffered from discrimination.

“But Yorkshire dialects do particularly well in surveys in which they are often perceived to be more friendly and more trustworthy.

“It’s no longer the case that people assume that those with regional dialects aren’t well educated.”