Text-language, standard English and becoming better students

English is, of course, not just something you study in school, but the main means by which you communicate and, some would say, even think. Its social significance makes discussion of language use often controversial. We are already seeing how the current debate around the use of ‘text-message’ language in exams has had widespread media coverage. As students of English you can do yourself a huge favour by keeping up to date with media discussion of language, and considering the issues in the light of the language you use yourselves, or hear and read around you. Examiners reward very highly discussion and examples that are topical and personal, rather than just the standard fare that tends to get repeated in text-books and traditional teaching materials.

I see one of the main functions of this blog as being a way for me to direct you towards material that you might not otherwise see, but I hope that you will endeavour to read and listen more widely and to point out relevant articles, radio and TV programmes, websites and so on that I might not be likely to encounter (I listen to very little commercial radio, for instance, and hardly ever read Nuts or More! – sorry).

So, can I suggest that you all read this article from The Guardian? There will be references that may not be familiar to you, but don’t use that as an excuse to give up. Instead, the most useful way to think about such references is to see them as gaps in your knowledge that can be filled. Simon Jenkins in the article clearly expects his readers to understand what is meant by ‘the Enlightenment‘ and to know who ‘John Knox‘ is. You can understand the article without that knowledge, but you are very fortunate to live in the internet age when enlightenment is only a mouse-click away.

Y13 students in particular will find the lengthy comments section below the article a mine of material for considering attitudes to language change, which is a key element of Unit 6.

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This entry was posted in ENB2 - Language & Technology, ENB6 - Language Change, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Text-language, standard English and becoming better students

  1. Paul says:

    I find heat magazine a good read sir(!) The article is initially quite difficult to get your head around. It’s probably easier to understand if you’re a Year 13. I find it quite surprising that people are now being rewarded in exams for using text language. I know that this is the consequence of an ever-changing language, but people should be rewarded for something they’re taught by their peers, not something they have caught onto. Personally, I wouldn’t write as if I’m texting as it is not appropriate in an exam that’s testing your english knowledge. People should write how they’ve been taught to write.

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