I’m taking a TSL class this semester and we started discussing something in class the other day that I think is applicable to technology in the classroom. Basically, there are different types of grammar. GRAMMAR refers to that stuff you learned in elementary school that you would sooner spend a day with ancient aunt Betty than have to recount. “a grammar” is that stuff you actually use. If I told you your new hair-doo looked cool, you’d know what I mean. You may not know what I mean when I say wut it do homie? chillin out maxin droppin it like it’s hot? But that’s ok, you don’t know my friend Malissa from the Bronx. a grammar is like a secret handshake that isn’t so secret: most people, native language users at least, know what a grammar is and know how to use it in everyday communication. You don’t say “I will but-ter my toast.” you say “I will bud-der my toast.” Obviously this has implications in teaching English as a second language. But what are its implications in technology use?
The first thing you are probably thinking of is texting. LOL, HAHA, and LMAO are all things that you’d probably understand if you get a text and you’re under the age of 30. But what about in the classroom when someone writes a paper on the computer? My grandparents bemoan the death of culture and society because the new generation does not conform to their standards of what is acceptable communication. Are these errors really grammar errors or the student expressing what they know? It’s a great question: where do we draw the line between self-expression and the lingua-franca (if there is one)? Clearly we need to teach kids proper English, without it you lose a tool that is necessary to function affectively. But how much reprimanding is appropriate for self expression in their language. I’m not going so far as to suggest that proper English is becoming the new Latin: dead and standard. Rather it is evolving, rapidly. So when kids are in the computer lab, writing a paper, it’s really up to you what you will accept and reject as acceptable. But my suggestion is that you have to consider where the kids are coming from: their context, their exposure, and the communication they use every day.