November 12, 2006

Speaking the IM Language

From Salt and Light:

What 2 do a/b IM-Spk

We all know that many of our students spend hours upon hours of time chatting with friends on the Internet. This new form of communication has brought with it a wealth of abbreviations and modified spellings to make online chatting quicker and easier. Well, what happens when our students’ papers and essays are riddled with the same “2 b’s” and “4’s” instead of correct standard English spellings “to be” and “for”?

I think the first step is to maintain a perspective that rejoices in the fact that our students are spending so much time writing in that mode of communication. Rather than simply marking their abbreviations and misspellings as incorrect and moving on, we need to encouragingly teach and remind our students that they must consider the audience and the purpose of the writing. Often the abbreviations and modified spellings are so familiar and commonplace to students that they don’t even realize they are inappropriate in academic writing. Thus, as technology and the field of English Language Arts continues to change and evolve, we must take on the new responsibility of teaching our students the differences between Internet-speak and academic writing rather than scorning their occasional misspellings. Hey, they are writing aren’t they!?

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