Teach text-speak to 'improve pupils' grammar'

5th November 2010 at 00:00

Pupils should study slang and text-message abbreviations to help their understanding of standard English, according to two academics.

Writing in The TES today, Dan Clayton and Professor Dick Hudson of University College London call for stronger teaching of grammar, because students in Britain appear less aware of grammatical terms than they were before the introduction of the national curriculum and are falling behind their counterparts in other countries.

But they suggest that teachers should be less worried about pupils' use of local language forms such as "we likes" or slang and text English, because these can be studied to help them appreciate standard English.

"Studying the forms and structures of regional varieties, street slang, text messaging and spoken language alongside the forms and structures of standard English - as a basis for mastering standard vocabulary, spellings, punctuation tricks, style-shifts, rhetorical devices and grammatical patterns - should be seen not as dumbing down, but as a positive move into the real language of real speakers," they write.

"Linguists know young people are adept at code-switching - shifting between different forms and registers of a language - but to do this they need at least two codes, and one of them should be standard English."

Insight, pages 34-35.

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