The other day a friend and I were texting about her pregnancy, and I asked if she had the book What to Expect While You’re Expecting. About 30 minutes later, she sent back, “Mom gave me W2EWYE, and it’s freaking me out!” At that point, I had completely forgotten what we were writing about, so I tried to solve the acronym:
- Wigs 2 Eyes, Watch Your Ears
- Witness to Eagle Whipping Yells “Enough!”
- Tax Forms (W2) Eradicate Women’s Yoga Equipment
- Wiggle Wiggle (W2) Eeeee Wiggle Yeah Eeeee
Then I finally remembered, and I felt stupid. Not the point.
Today, Edudemic posted a recap of an article from Education Week. A recent study has shown that texting does negatively impact students’ grammar. This is in part due to the fact that we text in our own language, so it works its way deep into the core of our everyday communication. We all knew this, right? I feel texting in the classroom engages students, but we also have to teach students the differences between formal and informal register.
I don’t fancy myself a grammar snob, although I have been known to mentally correct people, and cringe when I see sign or menu errors. Oh, and there was the time I was camping, and a sign in the bathroom spelled gnats with a k (knats). I happened to have a Sharpie with me, so I remedied that for them. My point is, when I correct people, it isn’t out of spite, but of concern.
One of my colleagues said today that some of her students have fantastic ideas, but their writing errors distract from their insights. It lessens the impact. What can I do?
- Explain its impact on their image, and how habitually ignoring errors can make or break future job opportunities. This blog post from the Havard Business Review is particularly harsh. This man will not hire a person with poor grammar, and actually administers a grammar assessment as part of the hiring process. His claim is that someone who cannot distinguish “its” from “it’s” after 20 years of education probably cannot handle details.
- Hand papers back and request corrections for obvious errors. Some kids have many errors, so for those students, maybe I can focus on one thing for that particular assignment.
- Find an audience for the students. Who wants to be publicly humiliated in a blog post? You can bet I will be proofreading this one. It would be my luck to make an error in a post about avoiding errors.
- I made students write request or thank you notes to excuse themselves to the restroom or water fountain during my first two years of teaching. They couldn’t go until the note was perfect (unless they were doing the “dance”). Writing improved, fewer trips out of class were made, and students thought it was hilarious (seriously). I don’t do this anymore because I can see it being a potential lawsuit (I kept some of those letters, though).
- Suggest students listen to the Grammar Girl podcast. It’s short and sweet.
While I’m considering ways to make perfecting grammatical skills fun, you should read Edudemic’s 15 Surprising Things You May Not Know About Texting.