Besides the technical jargon that comes along with internet technology, there’s also an entire social dialect spoken by social internet users. There is of course the infamously hard-to-crack code of acronyms that began as a way for children to communicate via instant messenger when parents were looking over their sholders. Like a secret code, I guess. Then there is the lingo from social networking sites. If you get defriended, well then that just ruins your entire day. But it’s not as simple as that. I’ve noticed some local girls, usually aged 20 and younger, add extra consonants at the end of words. For example, a younger cousin of mine said, “Can’t waittt til vacationnnnn!” and “ughhhhh. this boyyy annoysss me.” But wait, that’s not even the enigma. It’s that this cousin, a saludatorian candidate and honors student, also wrote, “I wantt to be on prom committee becausssse,” in her offical application letter for her school’s prom committee.
According to a Pew Internet Project Study, 60% of students do not consider electronic texts as “writing,” 73% percent of teens say their personal electronic communications do not interfere with the quality of the writing they do for school or theirselves, but 63% admit that they accidentally incorporate acronyms, informal punctuation, or emoticons in writing for school. How do you not realise you just wrote a smiley face on your English exam? Apparently, for this generation of students, Standard English is no longer the standard. Facebookian has become the national language, and we are going to all the ESL instructors.
My question is this: how is it that internet lingo and fad words come and go so quickly, yet they stick with students easier than the child’s own native tongue?
1. Facebookian and other languages are fun. They give the speaker a sense of exclusivity. They can laugh over that Slovak dude in the DirectTV commerical while their parents won’t be in on the joke (BTW, it’s in LOL Kittian or ICanHasCheezburgerese.)
2. This generation goes through trends on a weekly basis. The internet has made theirs an extremely fastpaced culture. If it’s five minutes old, well then, it’s old. These forms of communicating, while not traditional, are fresh, new, and completely unique to Generation Y.
3. They’re teenagers. Every batch of teenagers since the forties has had fad words. This particular set just has a louder voice via the internet.
The problems arise, however, when even good students like my cousin, can’t effectively switch between social language and academic language. Maybe I can turn your 😦 into a 🙂 though. This predicament is a teachable moment. Their problem is not intelligence, but lack of skills regarding audience and rhetoric, which are both in your lesson plans already. Use examples of social networking and electronic communicating with friends in contrast with what is expected when you are their audience. Give them the tools they need to make better writing decisions. With more instruction in writing for an audience, they may find they enjoy writing both in and out of school better. FTW!!