Monday, February 12, 2007

finding the right voice: battling IM-speak in the classroom

IM-speak catches the attention of the EdWonk, who asks,
What can be done to teach students which "voice" to use in their writing?
Simple: include a steady diet of real history/math/literature analysis by experts (at a level students can comprehend). Be unashamed of academic style. Teach students about register and tone. Turn them into linguists, careful listeners of everyday speech in radically different contexts. Have them read and translate credit card fine print or instruction manuals. (Compare then with "--- for Dummies"--and why "Dummies" is both self-deprecating humor and societal judgment.) Distinguish between "right/wrong" and "accepted/weird." Explain how "weird" is sometimes a barrier to clarity or social power. Don't apologize for the way the world is. Explain it, and help students negotiate it.


Nuss said...

I take a similar tack with my students. The world is the way it is, filled with all sorts of different contexts that require all sorts of different language skills. I work to teach them how to recognize which contexts call for formal language, and which don't.

The funny thing is that they find that they already know how to use language in all sorts of contexts -- with parents vs. with friends, etc. -- they just don't know it. So I show them.

Nuss said...

And, in case you're still following House Bill 1307 ...

Jim Anderson said...

Yep--just like Socrates showed millennia ago, half of education is making tacit knowledge un-tacit.

Thanks for the link. I'll be blogging it shortly.