Let’s Get Something Straight! Not STR8!

I’ve noticed an increase in “texting” type lingo in student writing. I’m not talking about when students text each other in on the go instant messages, or write short Tweets that are limited in the number of characters that can be used. No, I’m talking about when students write and are publishing their work to a broader audience.  Formal writing deserves more than text type language.

As a long time writing teacher, it looked to me like it was a conventions issue at first—not capitalizing “I” when necessary, or misspelling you as u, or are –r, or even for-4.  Where do our young writers learn this? It’s not in our writing curriculums, that’s for sure.  Perhaps it’s being modeled in the mainstream media?  For example, when celebrities post on social media they often use text type slang. Example: I M L8 C U L8R. This might be acceptable when you are limited in social media platforms such as Twitter where text characters are limited to 140 characters— but not in blogs and opinion pieces where the purpose is to make our message crystal clear to our audience.  If our students want to be taken seriously as writers, we need to help them understand the importance of formal writing.

It’s being modeled for young writers as acceptable. But is it acceptable? Recently, a well-known personality posted about a serious topic.  It wasn’t that what she was saying or expressing was inappropriate (although some thought so), but rather her use of texting type slang.  It was hard to take the information seriously because of the text slang. The piece was all over the internet and news due to the topic, but I was more disturbed by the lack of grammar and conventions she used.

I believe that correct grammar and punctuation must be taught and continually reinforced and modeled for our growing writers. By reminding students of the purpose of their writing, whether it’s to entertain, inform, or persuade, we can help them to understand that in order to be taken seriously, our writing must look and sound credible. If the work is to be published to a broader audience, it should be free of blemishes—or convention errors.  Do not allow published work to include text type slang, lack of capital letters, and words such as R U 2 L8 4 it or allow the I to be lower case.  Let’s model publishing correctly and insist that the writing we share with others is our very best. 

CUL8R!  See you later!