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Texting's effect on writing/grammar With the prevalence of texting among all ages, and the perceived negative effects on traditional grammar, how should students best overcome this detriment to their...

Texting's effect on writing/grammar

With the prevalence of texting among all ages, and the perceived negative effects on traditional grammar, how should students best overcome this detriment to their writing skills? Many students understand the difference between formal and informal writing, but unfortunately, many do not especially in the middle schools.  What do you see as solutions?

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lhc eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I begin every school year (7th grade Communication Arts) with a discussion of the difference between formal and informal writing, and explain that basic usage errors in skills that should be well-known to students by 7th grade, such as capitalization rules, will result in deductions from their grades on written work, even written work pertaining to literature we are reading, not just formal writing assignments and items handed in during discussion of the writing process.  In other words, the usage conventions that they should know, I deduct for on all work handed in.  It usually takes a couple of assignments, and a few frustrated conversations before this problem begins to take care of itself--for most of the kids, that is.  This doesn't necessarily happen for the struggling students who may have accumulated deficits in knowledge over the years for whatever reason. 

I often give the example of a close friend mine who was the national director of tax services for a major nationwide accounting firm for years.  She had to proofread every single item written by one of her accountants that went out on company letterhead; he apparently didn't think his writing mattered too much because he was a "numbers guy".  However, this particular deficit in his performance cost him a raise one year, and his job the next.  Some of the kids seem to take that story to heart, and at least begin to understand why I fly around the room on my broomstick wielding a red pen. 

Although many teachers I know have tried to remedy this problem with what is sometimes called "Daily Oral Language" or DOL sentences placed on the board for students to correct and discuss each day, Donalyn Miller claims in The Book Whisperer that there is relatively little research to support the effectiveness of daily sentence corrections.  She believes--and my experience lines up with this for the most part--that more reading independently with books students choose themselves, coupled with mini-lessons addressing specific grammar and usage skills in the context of authentic assignments designed around reading is a better alternative.  However, even if these skills are re-taught and reinforced, it's not going to do anyone any good if correct usage is not applied in formal writing, and the only way I really know to do that is to dock points early and consistently. 

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bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Sadly, many students (mostly middle schoolers) seem to have no clue about the differences between formal and informal writing. Their constant texting, with no punctuation or capital letters and shortened word spellings, have crossed over into classroom writing, and many don't seem to understand that they do have a choice to write properly or not. I agree with the previous posts about using the red pen; lowered grades may be the only wake-up call for many students, and hopefully their parents will also take notice and take charge of their children's all-important writing discipline.

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M.P. Ossa, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer, ESL/TEFL Instructor

bookM.A. from Chapman University


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write5,667 answers

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I am a teacher and a VICTIM of texting language. I found this out when, in a note to parents, I actually wrote the words "u" for "you", and used a hashtag (#) when I made an apology for something else in the letter, saying #sosorry. It was ridiculous, and I immediately checked my other emails of the day to see if I had done the same thing.

My problem is that the exposure to "texting grammar" is so pervasive that it is more prone to remain stored in the student's long term memory than regular grammar. Moreover, it may currently be put to use more than regular grammar in the daily contact from student to student, Certainly, this is no state of emergency, but language teachers must staunchly insist in laying down the foundations for grammar to our millennial learners. Let us also be equally staunch about advocating against texting and driving.

 

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I completely agree with the above post.  Text messaging has negatively impacted our students' ability to spell and write with proper grammar.  The bottom line is that for students to improve...

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