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  1. #1
    NikkiBarber's Avatar
    NikkiBarber is offline Junior Member
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    Default Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    I am not an English teacher, but I just started teaching at an American college and I have found that several students sometimes substitute a single number or letter for a word. One student used "4" instead of "for" throughout his entire paper. Another wrote "U" instead of "you." It was the kind of writing that you would expect to see in a text message.
    These students are still required to take English no matter what subjects they choose to major in, so it is hard for me to understand why they make mistakes like these. I have to assume that it is intentional laziness rather than a real error, but this makes it harder to correct.
    I have not been hired for a permanent possition so it is very important for me to do well, but how is it possible to teach history on a higher level to students who write worse than second graders?
    I am only 28 years old so it should not be that hard for me to relate to my students, but on this point I am lost.
    Is this kind of problem common in students? And other than explaining that it is wrong (which these students should know already) how do you correct it?
    On one hand it is not my job to teach English, but on the other hand I cannot give a decent grade for an otherwise good paper if it reads like a text message!
    A small (and insecure) part of me is wondering if the students thought they could get away with this because I am a foreigner.
    Do you think that this could be part of the reason for the many "mistakes" I am finding in their work?

  2. #2
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by NikkiBarber View Post
    And other than explaining that it is wrong (which these students should know already) how do you correct it?
    Are you sure they know the difference?

    The best way to handle the situation is to show the student(s) what is required in formal writing (teach them) and, then, on their next essay, mark their work accordingly.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    Give those who do it incomprehensible feedback written in very dense text language and when they ask what you mean, tell them you thought they were more comfortable with that sort of writing.

  4. #4
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Give those who do it incomprehensible feedback written in very dense text language and when they ask what you mean, tell them you thought they were more comfortable with that sort of writing.
    The direct approach would not only be easier but faster.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    1|\|D33D 17 \/\/0ULD

  6. #6
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    1|\|D33D 17 \/\/0ULD
    Right.

  7. #7
    NikkiBarber's Avatar
    NikkiBarber is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    Are you sure they know the difference?

    The best way to handle the situation is to show the student(s) what is required in formal writing (teach them) and, then, on their next essay, mark their work accordingly.
    I just find it hard to believe that someone who was able to graduate high school and be accepted into college could come this far without learning that words should be spelled using letters. It just seems so basic, doesn't it?
    Of course I will do my best to explain this after Christmas but I am not even sure of the best way to do it. I am not an English teacher so usually I just correct the really bad and obvious errors, but this problem was fairly common among the last pile of papers and it makes me think that I need to devote some time to teaching this to the class.
    I asked a younger family member about this sort of thing (I don't understand it myself and I don't own a cell phone) and I was told that she and her friends write this way because they find it easier, quicker and more "modern." Is this the common perception among (younger) Americans? Do they feel that they should be allowed to make up their own spelling?

  8. #8
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    My daughter uses text speak when she texts with her friends. I've seen an e-mail where she wrote Hy instead of Hi -- to her friends. I read a paper she turned in to class, and it was perfect. They KNOW the difference. (She also doesn't use text abbreviations in texts to me. They KNOW!)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  9. #9
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by NikkiBarber View Post
    ...this problem was fairly common among the last pile of papers
    What do your colleagues think? That is, how are they dealing with it?

  10. #10
    NikkiBarber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Students use texting language in papers at university. Help!

    I am new here and I don't know too many people in the other departments, but the few people I have asked said that although they did find "mistakes" like these sometimes, it was not a widespread problem with their students. That is really why I thought that my students might be doing it because they know that this isn't my first language. Perhaps they think that I either won't bother to correct them and take points off or that I won't know any better.
    I agree with Barb when it comes to them knowing. If they don't know then I am about to lose all my faith in this educational system. I really try not to think of the American school system as inferior to the one I myself experienced in Denmark but this makes it hard.
    That memorizing dates and vocabulary words without any larger context forms the basis for much of the teaching in high school is something I have come to accept. But this is just too much.

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