There’s a time, place for bad grammar, slang, students should be professional

Abigail Kruse and Abigail Kruse

When I tell people I’m planning on becoming an English teacher, their reactions are largely same: “Oh, I’ll have to watch how I speak around you.”

Even if it’s in jest, I really dislike hearing this. Not only does it perpetuate a stereotype that English teachers are all petty sticklers out to judge people’s grammar in everyday conversation, but it puts an unnecessary barrier between us.

Yes, it’s true that I will have a very important responsibility someday pretty soon. I will be in charge of molding young people’s grammar.

Not just any young people, either, but middle schoolers. Junior high students, a generation who will likely have never known life

without iPhones.

The way things are going, it’s safe to say that kids will be even more immersed in technology and its accompanying lingo than they are now. Someone’s got to tell them that “alot” is not a word, “lol” is never acceptable in a paper and that apostrophes are all about possessives and are very rarely used to form plurals.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be the one to halt the irritating, ghastly trend of sticking apostrophes in last names.

Example: the First Family. Are they the Obama’s? No. They’re the Obamas. Same goes for the Millers and the Joneses.

You don’t need the apostrophe unless you’re talking about something that belongs to the family as a whole, like the Millers’ cat. Unless that’s the case, leave the apostrophe out of names.

Of course, there’s a difference between slang and plain, old-fashioned faulty grammar. I admit to having the pet peeves you would expect a future English teacher to have, although I prefer to think that anyone who values appearing intelligent would feel the same way.

I’m talking about things like homophones. Their, they’re and there get me every time. It’s the same thing with who’s and whose and two, to and too.

Then there’s b, c, r and u. As Weird Al Yankovic’s song “Word Crimes” so eloquently puts it, they are “words, not letters.”

And come next week, you will have gone to that Halloween party or several, not have went.

There’s nothing wrong with texting things like “lol” or “omg,” posting them in a comment on Facebook or Twitter or even with saying them out loud. They have their place, but it’s not in academic writing.

These are all things that are crucial for my students to know. Just as importantly, they— not to mention those who think they have to be so careful around me— need to differentiate between situations to know what kind of language is


You wouldn’t talk to your professor the same way you would hanging out with your friends. Imagine if you texted in academic language. It would take forever and cost a fortune.

After all, that’s not what texting is for. It’s meant to be a shorthand of sorts, to chat quickly and easily.

The same usually does not apply in class.

It’s the wise person who can go fluently from one communication setting to the next. I like to think I fall under that category, at least most days.

So, please, don’t watch what you say around me. I’m a normal person who can abbreviate obnoxiously with the best

of ‘em.

I’m only a stickler when I’m in the classroom.

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