Thursday, November 22, 2007

Does I.M Language Affect Grammar Of Students?

Hello to all. Hope you all remember about the survey on IM Language that I had told you about. I know that I’m a bit late in posting this; but as you know it’s better late then never!

What Is IM Language?

Now, what do you mean by IM Language, some of you might ask! According to me, IM language is Instant Messaging or texting language used primarily by kids using internet/mobile phones for IMing, sending e-mails and SMS etc.

I am of the view that excessive usage of texting/instant messaging by children influences their grammar, spelling, etc., but I’m not opposed to it when I'm on the net. I don't always write everything out completely and use phrases like "brb", LOL etc.

The Findings

I had earlier published a post 'IM Language Improves Grammar & Vocabulary!' and put a survey to know the view of my readers on this subject. According to the result of this poll, majority of the people said that NO, IM language doesn’t affect the grammar of the students. I can not agree with this completely, but part of the reason that the survey resulted into such an outcome may be because of the fact that many of my readers are teenage boys & girls who use IM exhaustively!! I cannot help on this front, LOL!

But to make it doubly sure and to substantiate my results, I’ve done some detailed study and I can point to you the research conducted by some Canadian Researchers. You can read the article “IM language is not spoiling English, say Canadian researchers” It disputes a popular belief many of us have about the effect of IM on grammar.


Today’s world is a technology oriented world. With all those computers or the cell phones that have made into the modern world, it is understood that there will be a change in language too. The modern society is driven by fast cars, fed on fast-food and educated by news briefings rather than entire, informative reports. This is reflected in the IM language.

Oh yes! Students are very much bored in class and so they need a medium to have fun. This is provided to them by IM language. In classrooms it does help in better communications between the teacher and students. Thus, it enhances the teacher and student bonding. This is the kind of language that kids enjoy as IM language was mostly invented by teens and is their own creation. As a fact, it is much easier and a million times faster to write.

Now that you know that these are the various advantages of the language I’m sure all those who disagree would want to know their drawbacks too!

I don’t disagree with the fact that IM language is a major disadvantage too (especially in the classrooms). It has been observed that students who use the net tend to use IM language in their assignments too. They use short terms like “brb” (be right back) and “lol” (laugh out loud) during verbal speaking and in written assignments also. Most teachers believe that IM language is the major cause of the alarming rate of increase in improper usage of the language. IM can be a distraction in the classrooms, especially when it's not supposed to be used. The use of such a language can cause students to focus more on their conversations than the task at hand in class.

I wonder if kids would write much at all if they weren't presented with the "fun" forums of im and text messaging? So, it might be like that writing something is better than writing nothing, isn’t it?

To sum it up, language requires a certain place and time, and as long as kids understand that IM language stays in e-mails and chatting and academic language belongs in school, then hopefully all kids like me won’t be affected in their grammar by IM language. And as long as educators accept it for what it is and teach standard written English well, I don't think that IM’ing will change all writing. It will most likely remain a type of shorthand.

All this is the result of the little research I did, so many of you must be having different schools of thought. And also if you want to add something to what I have written you are most welcome to do so.

You all can express your views by posting your comment below. For now, I gotta go frnds but hope 2 brb :D!

Related Posts:

IM Language Improves Grammar & Vocabulary!



meghz, Im lingo is not used by kids, buy by almost all da ppl who uses net. even my dad uses abbreviations while chatting or texting me. But i dont think if you are some one who reads and keep in touch with english, it wont affect ur grammar. itz true that even while talking, sometimes we resort to these short cut lingo, but hey - who hv got all de sweet time in da world? so, i think - between the gen x and ppl who understand,wrting/speaking in this IM lingo should not create any problems...
but for assignments and exams, we may have to adhere with original forms. Using IM lingo extensively is not an issue as long as you know where to use what...


Hi xh,
Here, I cannot agree with you fully. IM language is primarily used by teenagers and they are enjoying it. Grown up people use it sparingly and for the ease of it.

Further, it 'IS' an issue with the academicians and college professors all over the world and it is very well 'concluded' that such type of usage by children affect their grammar and spellings and reading habits.


Ah, IM language...I myself try to avoid it when I'm on aim usually...I do use lol and omg and excessive smileys (as you've no doubt noticed);) but that's about it. It's probably mostly due to the people I talk to though; they all frown on IM language, so of course I wouldn't use it with them. For me, when I'm talking to someone and they say things like u for you, or cuz for because, or wut for what, it's really annoying...I feel like they don't think I'm worth the time it would take to type the whole word out. So I can't say that im language extensively affects my writing or schoolwork. However, I do suppress the need to say "lol" in daily conversation on a regular basis, and I use smilies a lot in my e-mails and blog posts, so I can only imagine what would happen if I developed the habit of using other forms of net speak.

Oh, but I have taken to using French netspeak on makes me feel more like a native speaker , but maybe I should stop in light of these articles :p

A Blog about Nothing

It used to drive me nuts to see "IM" writing used everywhere. Me, who couldn't possibly careless about things such as proper grammar... Pot, kettle, black?

Yeah, I hated it. I had the bias that only undereducated 13 year old snots used it. But then I discovered something interesting. Everyone uses it. College professors use it, politicans use it, soldiers use it, emo kiddies use it. I could go on for hours, but you get my point.

Using it or not using it doesn't make you any more or less intelligent than the next person. It just means you have another method of communication that previous generations did not have. At one time short-hand capable secretaries were high prized members of the workforce. One day I believe people who are "fluent" in IM will be just as highly prized.

If that's not enough to influence you opinion think about this. Imagine if your kids typed everything out in proper long form when text messaging their friends. Think about the bill you'd possibly be getting. Think about it and be grateful they use IM lingo.


Hi Ranjani,
I completely agree with you. I've noticed your excessive use of smileys and lol! I think people who use the Im language on the net tend to use it in their daily routine and sometimes in their classes too. It's always better to remember that iM should be used on computers and not in classes. This is what is spoiling their grammar.
As for you, I think your English is wonderful and your excessive use of smileys and lol, is a minor thing that doesn't effect your language!

Douglas Woods

Let us clarify a few things. Abbreviating words, such as in I.M. language or txting (I believe it is correct without the 'e') is not a new phenomenon. Techniques go back way into the old days of Ham (amateur) Radio, where words such as 'please' would be shortened to 'pse' or 'thank you' to 'tnx' and 'bcnu' meant 'be seeing you'.
These abbreviations, together with sets of codes such as 'Q codes' were used for speed and to conserve bandwidth.
The same reasons hold true in modern cell phone usage. It is quicker to type 'l8r' instead of 'later' and words can often be understood without their vowels. Originally, SMS messaging was limited to 256 characters per message, hence the need to use abbreviations. It is also more fiddly to find the letters on a numerical pad rather than a qwerty keyboard, so typing as few letters as necessary is a bonus.
It is noticeable, however, that with the removal of the character limit in messaging and the increasing use of keypads on many mobile devices, is leading to a decline in the use of abbreviated text. Indeed the use of terms such as 'l8r' is now seen as old fashioned, even perhaps lazy.
So let us not decry people for using their ingenuity to overcome limitations in the technology but, rather, to praise them and perhaps marvel at the creativity that they have used to enable quick and simple communication.


lisa q.

As an English teacher, I can tell you it does have an effect in classrooms especially in written assignments. Kids don't understand the distinction between formal and informal language and think what they use in IM is okay to use in their schoolwork. In our school we actually have a 'no tolerance' policy on cell phones. They are completely prohibited during school hours. Staff and faculty have been instructed to confiscate them and turn them into the office. This is because of classroom distractions and because of cheating...texting answers to each other, etc.


Sorry, I'm no expert in IM language. However I have to emphasize the necessity of learning English as the primary language. Right now in Europe we have a babylonian confusion of languages. All political conversations have to be translated to 20+ languages.
If kids want to use abbreviations, great, maybe that could be brought to kind of an international standard to secure international communications.


Hi "a blog about nothing" author,
Thank you for dropping by and enlightening me on the subject. You rightly said that IM language is another method of communication that previous generations did not have. Still, I think it is highly used by kids of my age compared to grown up people where the usage is comparatively less. Of course, they also use txting language in e-mails etc.
Thanks again!


Hi douglas woods,
You have really explained the subject in details. Thank you very much for that.

I was not aware that txting message is becoming old fashioned, as you said. Even though restrictions on number of words on SMS etc. are lifted, I think txting language is extensively used due to its quickness and ease.

The 'Q codes' mentioned by you and the evolution aspects of this type of language is really new to me and thanks for enlightening me. I will have to do more research on the subject.

Thank you for dropping by and leaving these valuable comments!


Hi Lisa,
I agree with you on the aspect that unless and until students in schools & colleges distinguish between the formal & informal nature of the language and where it may be used and where it should not be, it will surely affect their language. Great to know that it is entirely prohibited in your college and good for the benefit of both students & teachers.

Thank you for the explantions given and your valuable comments!


Hi Wilbau,
Great to know about the babylonian confusion of languages in Europe. Yes, if this texting language can be made an international shorthand language, it would be great! Thanks for your comments on the subject, which are great encouragement to me!


The reason why IM language is so popular is because it is economical. In this fast world, everything has to go fast, just as you explained, and the quicker you can get your message across, the better. Of course nowadays this new form has not been institutionalised and is not support by authorities, but rest assured they soon will.

Now to improve your English a bit, not that you need it much. Since you tried to write an academic paper, you should avoid contracted verb forms, such as weren't and isn't, and you should use children instead of kids.

Oh btw, I gave you an award. :)


Hi manictastic,
You are right in pointing out that with the fast life, language use also has become faster! Thank you for pointing out the contracted verbs I use, which I have to avoid.
Thanks again!


IM language as another poster stated isn't really a new language. Many organizations use forms of abbreviated language. Even back in the 70s when I first started working for a telephone company, we were taught and used abbreviated words. I still use it today for notes and quick messages. I have used the same abbreviations in IMs. Some of the ones I use the most are hm (home), lwtc (left word to call), dau (daughter), sp (spouse), husb (husband), etc.

I only use this abbreviated writing in notes and never for formal writing. I think that is the key and we need to stress to our children to write professionally when it's not an IM.


I am not sure if my opinion is any good since my native language is Finnish. What I have learned from other teachers is that it affects writing but we have an additional problem: the children use the same abbreviations originating from English. The whole computer world is slowly having an effect of Finnish.
I think one important issue is the age when the child starts to use the computer or the cellular. The student should know how to write before starting to use IM language. In Finland it is hard; this is the home country of Nokia and even first graders have cellular phones.
I am so old that I don't use IM at all, smileys at the most. Besides when using the cellular my phone has a Finnish vocabulary and it can guess the word when I press the buttons only once. Using that tool proper language is even faster than a shortened one to type.
Because of the original style our language is formed, spelling is actually very easy to learn. How do kids learn the proper spelling in English if they mainly use IM language?
You are an excellent writer and I am sure IM language does not affect our writing skills :)

Jordan Pearce

It only impacts language if the individual allows it.

We speak one language on your phone or in IM, oops, I mean Instant Messaging, and another language face to face.

Groups create their own languages so they can associate with each other no matter what age.

Of course it sounds corny when a 45 year old says "Whassup dawg?" but that is their own choice of words.

Those that are tech savvy probably use shortcuts more often. So someone who is new to instant messenger will have to learn the lingo quick.

You would think that Pig Latin would have screwed up grammar in the past.

Lazy language can be corrected. Use of the word 'like' is more frightening to me.

"I was like...and she was all like...then I was like..."

Confusing filler for lazy speakers.


From a grammatical point of view, it really is not good for younger children. I know so many kids who are use to leaving out vowels when texting (to save time) that when it comes time to write a simple composition they do not know how to spell.

I have seen it happen. They can text fast, but they don't write fast. However, this is GenX.


Hi Cindy,

It is really amusing to know about the abbreviations used in the early 70's as you pointed out! I think we have changed these entirely now and is way different.

I agree with you again that children should write properly and professionally when it's not an IM.

Thanks for the comments.


Hi Leena,

Your opinion is highly valuable!! It does not matter whether your native language is English or Finnish or any other, you have provided with points to ponder. (Even my native language is not English!)

You have rightly said that the student should know how to write before starting to use IM language and that is generally true in almost all countries (I think so). However, it is astonishing to learn that in Finland, even the first graders have cellular phones!!

As you said, learning spelling in English is comparatively difficult and hence it may be problem for children to use both the formal & informal languages simultaneously.

Thank you for complementing my language. But I think I also use IM language extensively and it sometimes come in my way while writing formally, though I try to control it. (You see, that is why this survey was done by me and tried to explore the subject and posted this article).

Thank you for the support and encouragement.


Hello Jordan Pierce,

You have said "Groups create their own languages so they can associate with each other no matter what age". Very interesting statement and very true too.

I agree with you that whosoever comes to this field has to learn the lingo quickly and also that the individual is influenced only he or she allows it.

Thank you for sharing your great thoughts which are really useful for me.


Hi iriegal,

Unless and until children know and follow the practice of separating the informal language from the formal writing, there will be difficulties in spellings and grammatical mistakes. So, I think GenX should first try to differentiate both and then only they can improve.

Thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

Blogger template 'YellowFlower' by 2008