Teachers are also finding that a large percentage — 66% — don’t even believe grammar and spelling are important.
For those of us who consider ourselves grammar enthusiasts or grammar nerds or any of the other titles we might bestow on ourselves, that’s a shame.
During the recent visit from Hurricane Irma, I had the opportunity to interact with some young people, primarily on Facebook, who clearly weren’t concerned about proper English.
Several people asked questions like, “Are we gone die?”
Beyond the futility of the question itself — how is anyone supposed to know if someone else is going to die because of a storm — there’s that third word: Gone.
Apparently, the colloquial non-word gonna is no longer cutting the mustard. Now, the replacement for going no longer deserves a second syllable.
At the same time, when speaking English, many of us do drop that second syllable and what we say phonetically, does sound like “gone” instead of “going.”
But speaking in a rapid, less formal, more casual manner with your contemporaries is one thing; speaking that way to a business or even with strangers at least used to call for a bit more formality. These days, those standards seem to have flown right out the window.
Of course, the notion that social media are doing a number on grammar skills isn’t exactly a new idea.
Some teachers are turning to social media sites in which their students frequent to spot trends that might help them relate better. Some teachers have even begun incorporating meme-like devices into lesson plans to help maintain students’ attention a bit better.
If you can’t beat them, join them? Well, not exactly. It sounds slightly more like trying to turn a negative into a positive to the extent that the teachers can as they still try to prepare students for the real world.
I’m not saying that we need better grammar on social media. I wouldn’t even try to fight that particular battle.
But I am suggesting that just as we might think about scenarios in which we might encourage kids to use their “indoor voice” rather their “outdoor voice,” it might be time to remind them that there’s a time to use “chat mode” language and a time to use a more formal variety.
Grammar is important because it’s a standard of communication. Just because people your age understand what you say as you use more casual modes of communication, that doesn’t mean everyone will.
And for young people who are evolving language of their age group, they’ll eventually get out into the working world where older employers might not appreciate text-speak.
If students are less willing to care about English, they may one day find out the hard way that it was a wrong position to take.
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.