Reading & Literacy

Can English Teachers and Social-Networking Sites Get Along?

By Anthony Rebora — December 14, 2011 1 min read
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Blogger Siobhan Curious posts an e-mail from a fellow English teacher who, try as she might, is having a difficult time stomaching all the poor usage and grammar on Facebook and other social-networking sites. It’s a desperate—and wonderfully English-teachery—plea:

Remember in 1984, when they had Newspeak and they trimmed down the language? That could happen to our language! It's losing its meaning. It could be argued that if you can't articulate a thought you are not having the thought. I don't want our language to be reduced to lols. ...

In a sympathetic but tough reply, Siobhan advises humility and an appreciation of human variance:

Here's the truth: I enjoy the company of people who know how to use words. Their ability to use words is one of the reasons I enjoy their company. However, I enjoy other people for all sorts of other reasons. Just because they don't know the difference between "effect" and "affect" doesn't mean they have nothing to offer me. In fact, while I was busy learning to nit-pick about grammar, they may have been off doing things that had actual constructive impacts on others' lives.

Other replies are in her comments space. The thread actually has the distinct feel of a support group. One of my favorites, because of the sense of deep internal struggle it conveys:

I keep trying to tell myself the same thing I tell my students—that there are different types of English and the English used on social media or in texts, for instance, is not the same as the English used in formal communication. But then I see a misused "it's" or a phrase like "in the 90′s I went raving every weekend" on Facebook and I get all frustrated regardless.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.