I recently had an online IM chat with my nephew. I try to speak to all of my nieces and nephews at least once a month via Skype as I rarely have time to see them any more and coming from a very close family I find it important to maintain contact with the children as well as the adults. Sadly this time around my microphone was playing up so we decided to IM. I became increasingly concerned throughout our chat as his grammar and spelling were awful however more alarming was his lack of understanding when I corrected him. Now my grammar isn't perfect and I appreciate that grammar can become lax when chatting online or texting and that proper grammar can be quite hindering to the flow of a good conversation but that doesn't change the fact that his, to my mind, was extraordinarily poor. I first noticed that he doesn't use punctuation at all. I ignored this at first even though I found it irksome, we were of course chatting online and such things are to be expected. He then said "brb i got go tolet" then a few moment later "im back". I couldn't hold back any longer so I said (or should I say typed) "Didn't you mean 'brb' I have to go to the toilet" and "I'm back now"? He said "i dont get it". I said "Your grammar, spelling and punctuation in your last two messages wasn't very good." We then had a bit more chitchat, mainly about how he is getting on at school. I asked him what homework he had and he said that he had some English homework. I asked him what it was and he said that he had to 'play some games and stuff on bbc bite sise'. After correcting him on his spelling and punctuation again (I felt bad doing it) I thought it was time to speak with my sister and ask her what she thought about online games (albeit educational) being used as homework. I asked him to put her on and he said 'shes not here'. I asked where she was and he said 'she is gone shops for milk'. I then said don't you mean 'she has gone to the shop for some milk' and again he said 'I don't get it'. (In case you are wondering, my nephew is a couple of months shy of 11 and will be attending senior school next September.) When I spoke to my sister a few moments later over the phone about his poor spelling, punctuation and grammar she said that she was worried herself for a while but that his teachers had assured her that he was a mid to high achiever in most of his classes and that English was one of his stronger subjects. Now I still can't get my head around this as I would have said that he was quite far behind. I know that my sister is very supportive as a parent when it comes to education and that the school he goes to gets good Ofsted reports. Based on that short online chat would you guess that English was one of his stronger subjects? Am I being too harsh or am I right in thinking that he either has a very incompetent teacher or the entire teaching staff are just average teachers? The only other explanation is that the whole school is full of under-achievers so the staff haven't noticed! Any thoughts from teachers or ex-teachers would be much appreciated.