Internet slang is taking over, educators are concerned

Emojis, GIFs, stickers and abbreviations like IDK are used in classrooms and essays

With the third Covid wave slowly waning, students are attending offline classes again. However, teachers who are welcoming students to campuses are shocked by a “mutation” — not of the virus, but of the way Generation Z speaks. It is seen, many students are introducing the most current internet lingo to their class work these days.

Many of these students have been attending online classes and accessing study materials through their mobile phones, using WhatsApp. The pandemic hit the city in 2020. A couple of years can change things for sure. Students have been using emojis, GIFs, stickers and memes with text to communicate. This has had an impact on formal and written speech.

“Students have been using abbreviations, commonly used on the internet, to converse with each other. But, they do respect the conventional ways of using language as far as their academic work is concerned.

“In online classes students sometimes use abbreviations to speak with each other, but respect language conventions in academics. The students have started to communicate using multimodality (using a combination of communication modes). Teachers are noticing an increased use of exclamation marks and emojis. It is perhaps their way to express themselves,” said a teacher at Neevs Academy.

Further, the teacher explained, as far as abbreviations are concerned, younger children tend to use internet slang a lot more.

For example: “IDK” is used instead of “I don’t know” and “K” is used in the place of “Okay”.

BM spoke with students to gather their perspective on this trend.

Mehr Brar Sohal, a 12th grade student, Neev Academy, told this reporter, “We’ve noticed this too, especially the use of emojis. It is more prevalent among younger students.”

Sohal explained: “Once a student wrote, “I feel disheartened” and used a sad-faced emoji. Using emojis and internet lingo adds a tinge of casualness to conversations. It does play around with the conventional way of speaking but it definitely does not hold the power to “mutate” English Language.”

But those involved in the education sector seem to be concerned about the trend.

Aloysius D’Mello, principal, Greenwood High International School, told BM, “The writing has taken a backseat owing to the pandemic

Students went through an excessive exposure to social media. Spellings and grammatical consistency are paid no heed. This is definitely impacting the quality of the students’

communication skills in the longer run.”

D’Mello said the faculty at Greenwood High is handing out assignments to get students to practice writing prose to shape their skills in an effective manner.

D’Mello pointed out that parents too must join in the effort. “Gifting books to students to read and speaking with them in formal English on WhatsApp will help.”

WR David, principal, Jain International Residential School, told BM “WhatsApp lingo” has stirred a fear among teachers who work hard with students to improve their pronunciation and phonetics.

We don’t speak thelanguage spoken 50 years ago. Having said that… As educators, we must help students differentiate between styles

–Sita Shankar, principal, Gopalan International

It appears that academics are finding it hard to adapt to the change.

“It amuses us that sometimes students grin while we give them instructions to improve language skills. Perhaps, they feel that they will hardly ever need to use what is taught. We wonder what is the practical approach when a student uses abbreviations to speak,” David told BM.

Further, the principal pointed out that life is fast as it is, but does language need to adapt? What is the need to chop words into abbreviations while communicating with one another?

David said at Jain the faculty is approaching a midway to meet the students halfway. The school encourages usage of formal, academic language in formal gatherings but students may switch to informal speech in more casual settings.

He said, “Today’s generation needs reason behind everything and we are definitely not as quick but more experienced. How can we let them go the wrong way when there is so much to appreciate. If our language becomes coded and short then we may never learn speech and thus is the end of our languages. Even our voices may wean…”

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