Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Instant Messaging and the Future of Language

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments

Baron highlights how there is a problem with viewing Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) as either good or bad. I personally feel torn on this subject, and while I understand the need and place for proper grammar, I do not think at times it is of highest importance. Baron writes how in the mid twentieth century, “writing instructors were commonly advised to focus on content and de-emphasize mechanics” as some of the finest graduates could not spell properly nor could they use correct grammar.

I’m torn on this subject for two reasons. While I personally appreciate proper grammar, and generally feel quite irked when someone engages in a horrific display of linguistic murder, I also know that some of the brightest individuals I have ever met, cannot spell to save their lives. When it comes down to it, is proper grammar and spelling really a necessity, or is it something that has been drilled into our heads as required etiquette? I’ve met social workers, teachers, doctors, and other professionals who excel in their areas of work, but cannot connect the dots when it comes to linguistics. Sometimes I fear that as a society, we have grown too rigid in our definition of what we classify as intelligent, and may at times look down on individuals who do not display perfect grammar.

However, because we live in a society which values proper grammar, perhaps educators should place a greater emphasis on teaching kids how to write and spell properly. Baron explains how at times, teachers may “tolerate IM novelties in classroom written assignments” so as not to appear “out of touch with contemporary culture”. I do not see a problem with teachers allowing text lingo in certain assignments, however I do believe that if IM lingo is used too often, students may out of habit, forget how to write ascribing to proper grammar etiquette. If students become too comfortable with writing in abbreviations, they may find themselves struggling when the time comes to write a resume or a cover letter. It is great that teachers are making an effort to engage the culture rather than oppose it, but they must do so carefully and still keep in mind the best interest of their students. If our future society points towards the extinction of IM language, then our teachers must do their best to discourage its use. However, if we are headed towards a greater openness to language of all form and variation, then this diversity should not only be celebrated, but encouraged in all.


Works Cited

Baron, N.S. (2005). Instant messaging and the future of language. Communications of the ACM, 46(7), 30-31.

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