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Grammar in the Age of Social Media
posted by: Alix | March 06, 2012, 05:00 AM   

With social media and technology expanding daily, students and the general public are beginning to embrace shortened "text-speak" as part of an overall trend of using bad grammar, bad punctuation and bad spelling–all for the sake of convenience and speed. While social media lingo may send English teachers into a tailspin, experts have pondered whether proper English grammar may be on a road to extinction in the brave new world of emoticons, texts, tweets, and short Facebook posts.

In speaking to students, we often see that the shorthand used in social media and texting can be carried over into the classroom. Brandon Kessock, a high school freshman, said he's experienced an overlap. "I get so used to texting that I mess up a lot of easy words. Instead of 'what' I type 'wat.' Using my phone affects my grammar more than I ever knew."

Another high school student claims the trend is impacting nearly everyone in their class. "It has affected students negatively because people often do not fully spell out words and add extra letters when texting or messaging. Sometimes when I switch papers to edit in class, I find my partner using text messaging words."

Even with the growing trend, there is little research to suggest social media shorthand is having an impact on students. Still, regardless of the true impact on an emerging issue, grammar remains a hot subject. In recognizing the importance of writing well, education advocates are stressing the need to keep grammar lessons interesting and current.

Mignon Fogarty, author of "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing," said it's important for teachers to make the subject relatable. "Keeping them engaged in whatever way you can should be the best way to teach grammar. It's more fun for a student to consider grammar in the context of a Justin Timberlake quotation than from a textbook or made-up example," Fogarty said.

Technology can also be helpful in providing educators new tools. Ninth-grade English teacher Leslie Kraft uses these resources to her advantage. "There are a variety of applications for the Apple iPad which help students improve their writing skills," she mentions. Additionally, since students become better writers by reading texts they enjoy, "a major component of my curriculum is devoted to connecting students with appropriate texts and creating life-long readers," Kraft stresses.

Whatever your experience with teaching English, social media is clearly here to stay. As educators, it's critical to strike a delicate balance between promoting the academic use of technology and stressing the importance of proper grammar.

What do you think about the growing use of social media/ texting shorthand?
Comment below.

Comments (4)Add Comment
Why is grammar going downhill ?
written by Keith Hastings, Tolga. Australia, December 08, 2017

Third paragraph: "Another high school student" (singular).........."everyone in their (plural) class".
Second last paragraph: "There are (alluding to the plural), "a variety....." (collective noun but singular)
One aspect of these lapses of grammar may lie with the American use of English and the influence it has on those viewing television and listening to the various media. Newsreaders once took pride in their knowledge of vocabulary and diction, but, either they are just told to read from the autocue, or their knowledge of a "stock in trade" is sadly lacking.
If you listen to almost any interview, I would challenge those speaking to parse the work "like" when it is often followed by a vacuous pause, or used to start or end a sentence; or explain the use/meaning of other speech which seems to be padding, to maintain an output of sound, while the speaker's thoughts catch up.
Why we do what we do. Texting is now cheap or free.
written by Kevin Rush, Minneapolis MN, April 13, 2017

Cell phones, cell phone service and texts were expensive when texting was first introduced as a feature on cell phones. Most people couldn't afford them and those that did, didn't want to waste money. Abbreviation techniques were used to squeeze communication down into just one expensive text. Now, years later, the texts are either cheap or free. Do people abbreviate because they are too busy to spell and use proper grammar?

Each letter is now essentially free. Feel free to use as many characters as you need to communicate.
Txting Grammar
written by Sophia S., May 22, 2016

Have you ever replied to text with “LOL” or “OMG”? Well according to Matt Swayne and Andrea Elyse Messer from Penn State University, abbreviations like these could turn our future generations into a grammatically incorrect mess. Using proper grammar while texting has been an ongoing argument in America when texting began gaining popularity in 2006. Despite many believing that grammar is being destroyed by “text talk”, texting doesn’t affect the US youth’s grammar.
Despite popular belief, texting has no effect on tweens and teens. Many recent studies have been conducted on children and teens ranging from elementary school up to high school. Ashley Kulberg from Portfolio Newspaper stated that a test performed by the Nuffield Foundation proved that “grammar violations through text messaging do not carry over into either written or spoken English”. The tests Nuffield Foundation performed were on three groups of children. One from elementary, one from middle school, and one from high school. These facts concluded that texting grammar doesn’t cross over with the grammar younger generations use in schools.
Using “text talk” has a neutral effect on the youth’s grammar. However, others disagree and argue that “text talk” has only a negative effect. “Luv 2 Txt”, an article by Christina C., points out that “teens today… tend to look down on spelling and grammatical errors. This could easily affect one’s grades or job opportunities”. Some other people hold this stance because they believe that the amount of abbreviation used in “text talk” will hurt the original purpose of grammar. Some people even think that by using incorrect grammar while texting, their IQ will be lowered. However, as proven by multiple tests such as the Nuffield Foundation test, most children from elementary to high school do not infuse “text talk” with proper grammar. Though “text talk” is generally grammatically incorrect, it is most often times used for fun or efficiency through text messaging, and only in text messaging. Using improper grammar while texting has no direct correlation with someone’s IQ level. According to five contributing authors, Chantal N. van Dijk, Merel van Witteloostuijn, Nada Vasić, Sergey Avrutin, and Elma Blom from “PLOS”, “text talk” has neither a positive or negative impact on grammar on the youth’s grammar.
In conclusion, using “LOL” and “OMG” in a message really isn’t a threat. Using “text talk” while texting does not affect the US youth’s grammar.

“Luv 2 Text” Christina C.
“Text Messaging and Grammatical Influence” Nuffield Foundation. July 31, 2013
“The Influence of Texting Language on Grammar and Executive Functions in Primary School Children” Chantal N. van Dijk, Merel van Witteloostuijn, Nada Vasić, Sergey Avrutin, and Elma Blom. March 31, 2016
“Grammar in the Age of Social Media” Alix. March 06, 2012
“LOL: Texting has no effect on grammar” Ashley Kulberg. May 16, 2016
The Growing Use of Social Media
written by Reinhold Haludilu, Namibia, May 07, 2016

I think that social media helps us to explore the world and express ourselves in many ways that we want although their are also some negative effects to the growing use of social media which might cause one to totally depend on it and grasp all its gears.

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