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Tuesday, June 20th

Students Failing English Due to Twitter, Facebook

The freeform writing style of social networks like Twitter and Facebook is changing the way people communicate, and causing students to fail English. That's the claim of a piece out this afternoon from the Canadian Press. According to the article “(at) Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, one in 10 new students are not qualified to take the mandatory writing courses required for graduation.” And academicians are, in part, blaming social networking.

I was interviewed for this, and I share the view that students who let social network style, like SMS (text) abbreviations, such as L8R, and emoticons (like smiley faces) slip into their more formal communications, run the risk of being viewed as poor communicators by very influential people, such as potential employers and graduate school review boards. These things:

“say to me … ‘well, this person doesn't think very clearly, and they're not very good at analyzing complex subjects, and they're not very good at expressing themselves, or … they can't spell, and they can't punctuate,' These folks are going to short-change themselves, and right or wrong, they're looked down upon in traditional corporations.”

So have fun when you're online, but remember. Almost everything you “say” and do is visible to the entire world, including people who can make a difference in helping you achieve your objectives. And even if the social media gurus tell you the old rules have been thrown out, and communications has gone informal, and you should be yourself, someone apparently forgot to send that memo to our universities and corporations.


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Join The Conversation

  • Jul 26 Posted 5 years ago karrie (not verified) I can't believe this is actually happening, students may have different writing styles on social networks but they can't assume they can use those writing styles in other circumstances. I am about to graduate one of those criminal justice masters programs, now I wonder if the social networks had an effect on my current beliefs, apparently they can really influence the way we think and the way we act.
  • Sep 18 Posted 6 years ago samm I agree, the level of language training quality matters a lot. Why blame it on Social Media when students know everything about writing but they don't write the correct forms because they prefer the shorter versions? I wouldn't be surprised to hear that some need an online English tutor to make sure they pass the language tests.
  • Feb 8 Posted 7 years ago MarciaWaldman I agree with Nick. It's very easy to blame it on social media, but perhaps some school districts do not place enough emphasis on grammar, communication, and writing skills. My daughters text, IM, and use Facebook with the best of them -- using all of the standard text language abbreviations along the way. But they never let those abbreviations slip into their formal writing. In fact, they both excel at writing and write far above their grade levels. Some of the responsibility has to rest with parents, too. As parents, we have to insist that our children understand that there is a time and place for text language and school work and the workplace are not included among those places.
  • Feb 1 Posted 7 years ago NickJohnson I don't believe it is the social networks who are to blame. I see bloggers everyday who use abbreviations and text-message-speak in SMS and Twitter messages, but write very eloquently when they are writing a more formal communication. 

    Personally, the abbreviations really get on my nerve. I never LOL, not now, nor L8R. It grinds my eyes to see these, but I watch my own 14 year old daughter speak this way in text messages to me, but her written and spoken word is more professional than most in the workplace. 

    Our grammar and use of the language has been steadily slipping for many years. I truly believe that even without social networks, these same people would be failing at proper communication. It is because of the great number of people who accept this horrible use of language that allows the poor English skills to degrade. There is nothing hip and modern about writing like an elementary school dropout, but let's put the blame where it belongs.
  • Feb 1 Posted 7 years ago RickReno (not verified) @Richard. Thanks for the 411.  Perhaps you can listen and keep the community updated on other serious research efforts on this theme.

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