Delaware Writing Project

Slang; Does It Prevent Students from Communicating Properly?

By Crystal Bostick


Does It Prevent Students from Communicating Properly?

What is slang? a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people. Synonyms include; colloquialisms, patois, argot, cant and jargon.

One form of slang associated with several generations, all genders, multiple backgrounds is the AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) Lingo. Also, know as an example of shorthand writing. Within the current decade, educators have noticed a significant difference is student writing. This form of communication has transcended into the classroom and caught many teachers of writing by surprise. For years, educators were aware of slang in a verbal communication, then transitioned into student writing. At times, we can recognize ourselves beginning to write the way we speak, but now– a totally new way of communicating via text messages or DM’s; direct messaging has been a new era of writing. Examples; “cuz,” representing the word because and “ur” replacing the words your, you’re.

The way students communicate with one another through social media and text messaging is creeping into high school classrooms across the country. Slang terms and text-speak such as IDK (I don’t know), SMH (shaking my head), and BTW (by the way) have become a common sight on student assignments, befuddling some high school teachers who are unsure how to fix this growing problem. Terry Wood, a foreign language teacher at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, Md., has seen a “dramatic decline” in the writing abilities of her students “due to Tweeting, Facebook, and texting.” (

“They do not capitalize words or use punctuation anymore,” Wood, a teacher with 10 years of in-class experience, says. “Even in E-mails to teachers or [on] writing assignments, any word longer than one syllable is now abbreviated to one.”

“All groups – it doesn’t matter whether they are soldiers, policeman, criminals or whatever – always generate to some extent their own language. It’s not just to communicate information, it’s in order to include people into your group and exclude people out of your group.”
Slang has not become more prevalent, simply more public, he says.


“Does slang prevent young people from being able to communicate properly?” DebateWise. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2017. <>.


Lytle, Ryan. “How Slang Affects Students in the Classroom.” Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 13 June 2011. Web. 24 July 2017. <>.



About the Author

Crystal is an AVID Elective Teacher/ Coordinator at Springer Middle School, in Wilmington, DE. As a former middle school ELA teacher, she worked with students to embrace writing as an expressive way to communicate their thoughts. In the past, Crystal has taught grades K, 2-5 and 6-8, in the Red Clay Consolidated School District and Brandywine School District, both in New Castle County, DE. Her love of learning began as a young child with writing short stories. She is a third generation educator, who takes pride with continuing a family legacy of scholarship and service.

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