Sunday, February 12, 2012

Media Consumption Article

BRB, Learning Proper Grammar


Your son receives a funny text message. His fingers automatically type the phrase LOL (laughing out loud) in reply. When your daughter is posed the question “sup?” (think, “what’s up”) on Facebook chat, she quickly types back “Nm, u?” (equivalent to “nothing much, you?”) without thought. As cell phones and keyboards continue to replace our youth’s pens and pencils, the current decline in reading and writing skills should not come as a surprise.

Today’s technology has created an entirely new online language; one that experts say is causing a downfall in students’ abilities to articulate themselves through proper grammar and spelling. University of Waterloo has recently introduced a mandatory English language test for all students upon entering the school. Much to the surprise of the university’s faculty, 30% of newly admitted students are unable to pass the basic test. If one third of academic achievers accepted into one of Canada’s top post-secondary institutions cannot even understand the use of a comma or semi-colon, what does this predict for the intellect of our future society?


The main perpetrator of this literacy robbing is every teenager’s best friend – the cell phone, a device with which teenagers send an average of 3339 text messages a month. With character limits and fast-paced conversations, it is no wonder that short forms and acronyms have become the norm for the adolescent generation. For your child, it probably seems a lot stranger to type the whole word “because” than use its incorrect but shorter spelling of “cuz”. With this changeover into the acceptance of improper orthography, bad habits are being carried over from texting to academic papers, a phenomenon that is leading to lower grades and less workplace success. Rummana Khan Hemani, director of academic advising at Simon Fraser University notes that over the past few years she has seen an increase in “little happy faces” and “abbreviations” in academic appeal letters, a statement with which many professors agree. Teenagers have become so used to this informal and speedy rapport, they are no longer able to make the distinction between language appropriate for casually texting a friend and officially addressing an academic body.


A similar effect is produced by adolescents’ overuse of the computer. According to MSNBC, young people (aged 13-24) are currently spending an average of 16.7 hours online each week. With features like Spell Check and Thesaurus.com, people no longer need to write by themselves, but rather with electronic guides to correct their every mistake and now even their writing style. In a study conducted by a Manchester University student, “one in five said they would not be confident in writing an important email without referring to a dictionary or spell checker.” As the computer automatically corrects errors in written documents, teenagers have lost the ability to identify and use proper grammar, which is necessary in situations such as in-class essays or on-the-spot job interview forms.


With the increase in media consumption and technology use of today’s teenagers, a change in academic grammar enforcement is much needed. If teachers, parents, and employers place a higher importance on the necessity of correct linguistic structures, then hopefully the youth of our society will follow suit and start to remember that “i” comes before “e”, except after “c”.

Sources Used:
-http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3078614/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/t/teens- tune-out-tv-log-instead/#.TzbNU8X2aSo
-http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/nov/22/internet-encourages-bad-spelling-children
-http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/texting-twitter-contributing-to-students-poor-grammar-skills-profs-say/article1452300/

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