In a somewhat paradoxical situation, a large majority of teachers (73 percent) said they believe social media and texting are bad for students’ grammar and spelling, but 50 percent still use both to better understand their students, according to a new survey.
The findings from Dictionary.com reveal that 32 percent of teachers said they see students struggling with grammar, but those teachers admit they care less about grammar (15 percent) compared to other student skills such as meaning and comprehension (64 percent).
“Social media’s impact on language and communication, especially among younger generations, adds a new layer of complexity for teachers trying to relate to and understand their students,” said Liz McMillan, CEO of Dictionary.com.
(Next page: Teachers reveal their students’ top struggles)
“These findings show how American teachers grapple with this shift in language–what, if any, slang or social short hand is considered acceptable? Does comprehension matter more than spelling in a world of auto-correct?”
The survey found that teachers refer to social media to better understand their students’ pop culture references (50 percent), and more than one-third of teachers are scooping up that knowledge and using memes, emojis, and GIFs (37 percent) to drive home a point taught in their classrooms.
Teachers say they most see their students struggle with grammar (32 percent), meaning and comprehension (21 percent), having a wide and varied vocabulary (20 percent), and spelling (17 percent).
Teachers said they believe the majority of their students don’t think grammar and spelling are important (66 percent). Grammar and spelling rank low on teachers’ priorities when reviewing students’ work (15 percent and 6 percent, respectively). In fact, 25 percent of teachers who taught a subject other than English said they do not penalize their students for incorrect spelling and grammar.
A majority of teachers (88 percent) said they are irked by improper use of basic words (e.g. their, there and they’re). It comes as no surprise that 75 percent of teachers are bothered when students use popular slang or text speak in their schoolwork.
The survey was conducted online within the United States by YouGov on behalf of Dictionary.com from Aug. 4-8 among 801 teachers. Respondents range from teachers at elementary schools through postgraduate schools.
Despite concerns about social media slang and its impact on students, many educators find ways to incorporate social media into their classrooms to the benefit of students.
Nearly half (45 percent) of teachers in another survey said they agree participation in social media with their students can enhance the student’s educational experience.