Saturday, September 30, 2006

'Yo, can u plz help me write English?'

I thought that I'd repost an newspaper article that Ellen drew my attention to. It's an interesting piece that discusses the "problems" of chat-ese creeping into academia.

I would have to put myself squarely into the, "just educate them when to use it" camp as opposed to the "banish the evil chat software" camp.


Janine said...

I agree with you, Dan, but the comment by the university professor gave me pause. Exactly how much time should be spent in a university English course teaching basic written English such as the difference between "you" and "u"?

I think students can definitely learn when to use conventional English, but I also wonder whether a new topic in language education should be, how do you teach this in the classroom in a time-efficient manner? Certainly there are a lot more significant topics related to writing that shouldn't be displaced by learning English conventions.

Another issue which I have thought about recently is kids' preference for texting as oppposed to voice conversations. Some of this has to do with the ability to carry on several electronic conversations simultaneously, but is it changing the dynamics of spoken communication, also? This certainly may have implications for our foreign language classrooms. Now English language learners have to learn conventional English, IM language, and spoken language (also in its various forms) if they really want to be able to communicate with anyone in English.

Dan said...

I agree Janine, but if done correctly, this would be learned waaay before college. I'd introduce this topic in elementary school and continue it througout the K-12 curriculum.

Most state standards already include this, as they require that students write for specific audiences.


Ioana said...

I liked this article and I agree it touches a fairly controversial topic: how online written communication can change the way children(or even adults) use their L1 or L2. Generally, the online communication (emails, chat etc) is associated and appreciated for being fast communication. For this reason, we often sacrifice (myself included :)the language correctness in favor of the immediacy of the meaning transmitted. This "online ling" that is obtained might be perceived by kids or teens as a "cool" thing or just as an easy possibility to get away with it and avoid grammar rules they find difficult. For this reason, especially during formative years in L1 or beginning and even intermediate levels in L2, the use of technology in facilitating student-student interaction should be carefuly supervised and guided by the teacher. I don't think students should be prevented from using email or chat, but rather explained what are the different degrees of language formality/informality and when they should be used.

Dan said...

Absolutely. Writing for specific audiences is already part of most states (if not all) standards. I see teaching different levels of formality in online discourse as a natural extension of this.


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