Abbreviated Words in the IM Decade

With Email and Instant Messaging all the rage, teachers are finding many misspelled or abbreviated words due to the shorten language of our electronic society.

Learning to type and communicate through the written word is a great skill to develop at a young age and more and more elementary aged children are participating in this form. The issue school teachers are facing is when they ask for a five paragraph essay, they are finding many of the online language being used.

For example: Instead of writing the word ‘are’ the children are abbreviating the word as ‘R.’

When I was teaching middle and high school English, in the students writing, I always found words abbreviated from their many hours of online conversations.

Here is a short list:

You – U
With – W/
Before – B4
Love – Luv
I am – Im
You all – Yull
You will – U’ll

There is nothing wrong with using the Instant Messaging dictionary, but students need to understand that there are two different languages happening. One is for quick, short, friendly conversation with friends or acquaintances online while the other should be used for academic Standard English writing.

Schools and publishing companies need to realize this trend has formed and will be around for quite a long time. English books should begin to add a section in their lessons on writing describing the two differences about the languages.

In a way, this can be compared to as the new slang, just electronically spoken. But without the educational heads realizing this growing problem, many students may never truly understand the differences.

Teachers are making lessons based on the most misspelled words they find throughout their students writings and review them with the entire class. Maybe the English publishing’s company should approach a few teachers and ask them their own findings to contribute to a book focusing on the most common words students misspell.

It’s an idea as teachers are the ones finding and correcting the same common mistakes daily. It is a growing problem and students need to learn how to proofread, edit, and revise their own work. Spell check does not always pick up these words; especially when the program is set to automatically correct the word and it replaces it with the wrong word!

Another way to help students understand this important concept is having them read their writing aloud or workshop it to a small group. Reading aloud or having a classmate read their writing helps to focus on the incorrect spelling and misuse of words.