We must teach our students to use appropriate language

Higher education
It's a controversial debate – to what extent do you stop the use of urban slang among your students? Karen Sullivan argues for a tough approach.

Like many people, I was heartened and amused to hear that the Harris Academy in Upper Norwood, London has banned urban “slang”, with words and phrases such as “you/we woz”, “bare”, “innit” and “like” no longer tolerated, and even beginning sentences with “basically” or ending them with “yeah” being deemed unacceptable. 

While language is something that continually evolves, with numerous examples of slang becoming part of an acceptable vocabulary, there is and will always be a place for this type of speech, and students actually do have to learn what (and when) that is.

The disintegration of social speech has been hastened by social media and texting, in which abbreviating words to their most basic phonetic elements obviously makes sense. However, casual social interaction (the type of urban slang that educators are trying to stamp out) really should have no place in a formal learning environment, in which correct speech, respectful choice of vocabulary, and an emphasis on clarity and appropriate communication should reign.

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