Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Grammar

Teachers: Social Media is Destroying Grammar Skills

How are the grammar skills of the next generation? To hear some teachers tell it, those skills would be much better if kids stayed away from social media.

Social media might just be a problem when it comes to teaching grammar skills or even helping students learn them, with nearly 75% of teachers saying social media like Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are bad for grammar and spelling, according to a survey of teachers released recently on Dictionary.com.

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.

As far back as 2010, which may be a shock to your system to realize happens to have been seven years ago, social media sites were being blamed for “an increasingly unacceptable number of post-secondary students who can’t write.”

Back in 2012, The Seattle Times tried to put a positive spin on it for a moment, pointing out that kids were actually learning a second language through their online interactions, but then had to break the news that this second language just so happened to be texting.

But it quickly came to the point:

There isn’t (yet) a texting portion on the SAT, so they’ll need to work harder to recover those grammar skills they are killing with every LOL and BRB.

If there’s a good thing about social media in the classroom, The Central Valley Business Times suggests it might be a useful tool for teachers who are themselves trying to learn…about their students.

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.

1 Comment

  1. I don’t believe I ever heard President Obama say “going to.” I have been quite annoyed by his preferred “gonna,” which he has uttered repeatedly – even in giving a formal speech (I’m pretty sure the written speech still read “going to”).

    The media, especially local TV news, should be cited for destroying grammar, as well. I always wonder if the talking heads even realize what they are reading on their monitors, from a script written by (most likely) some young college graduate. I have noticed that tenses don’t seem to matter these days, although using past tense where the perfect past tense is appropriate can end up becoming “fake news.”

    “What we have here is a failure to communicate” has never been so true.

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Patrick
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.