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?