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Assignment 2: Article Analysis In this assignment, you will critically evaluate articles in the field of adult development. Each week, you will read two articles from the Annual Editions: Human Development textbook (see the weekly readings for the chosen articles). For each article, do the following: •Write a summary. •Describe the main points of the article and how it relates to the week’s course and text readings. •Evaluate the article on the basis of your own thoughts and perspectives on the topic covered. Use the lessons and vocabulary found in the readings. Your responses should clarify your understanding of the topic and should be original and free from plagiarism. Follow APA guidelines for the writing style, spelling and grammar, and citation of sources.
Article 30 Digitalk: A New Literacy for a Digital Generation KRISTEN HAWLEY TURNER Teachers who recognize that “digitalk” is different and not deficient can find ways to harness this language en route to improving students’ academic writing. • Lily: heyyyy (: • Michael: waszgud B.I.G.? • Lily: nm, chillennn; whatchu up too? • Michael: Watchln da gam3 • Lily: mm, y quien ta jugandoo? • Michael: Yank33s nd naTi0naLs. • Lily: WHAAAATT A JOKEEEEE, dime comoyankeeslosttagainstt them yesterdaii • Michael: i n0e, th3y suCk. • Lily: & the nationalsss won like only 16 games one of the worst teamshomieeegee. • Michael: t31L m3 b0uT it, i b3T y0u fIv3 d01LaRs th3Y g00nA10s3. • Lily: AHA, naw gee thats easy $ for youu ! =p • Michael: loliwaSplAylnG wl y0u. =D • Lily: lolimma talk to you later … i got pizzaa awaitingggmeeeee (; • Michael: iight pe3cE As I copy this text conversation between two adolescents into Microsoft Word, the screen lights up with red. Every line in this exchange is marked. Microsoft Word, it seems, does not “get” the language of these speakers and attacks the black-and-white text with its red pen. For Microsoft Word, these writers are wrong. When I first encountered “computer-mediated language” (Crystal 2001: 238), I was as confused as my word-processing program is today. An English teacher and one of our school’s “grammar gurus,” I couldn’t understand why students were substituting “2” for “too” or “u” for “you” in their school writing. I was completely stumped by the language they were using to talk to each other digitally. Today, when I look at the exchange between Lily and Michael, I am amazed by their ability to manipulate language and to communicate effectively across time and space. I have evolved from being a grammar guru who questioned this teen language as a degradation of Standard English to one who sees adolescent digitalk as a complex and fascinating combination of written and conversational languages in a digital setting. The Journey of a “Grammar Guru” I first ventured beyond e-mail into other forms of digital communication a decade ago when my brother installed an instant-messaging program on my personal computer. He taught me how to “see” him online and to exchange messages. A few years later, I used a similar instant-messaging program to “chat” with group members as we completed a class project for graduate school. Our inability to find a time for five adults to meet in person led us to use this technology, and our success in working together in a virtual space made me consider the pedagogical applications of instant messaging in my high school classroom. When I first assigned a book discussion to be conducted by instant message (IM), my high school students looked at me quizzically. They hadn’t thought about using IM as a learning tool. For them, it was a social space outside of school. They humored me, however, happy to be doing something “fun” rather than writing a literary essay about the book. As with any initial assignment, I wasn’t sure what I would get when these students submitted their work. What I received were pages of writing that impressed me with truly critical thought about the text—and that shocked me with language that was far from Standard English. I worked hard to decipher those first chat transcripts. I mentally capitalized letters and added punctuation marks. I translated phonetic spellings. I asked my brother or the students themselves to explain unknown acronyms. When it was time to grade the assignment, I was faced with a difficult decision. As an English teacher, I needed to hold them accountable for their use of language, and I certainly wouldn’t have accepted this kind of writing had they submitted a traditional literary essay. However, the discussions of the novel were rich, and I wanted to reward their thinking despite their seemingly substandard language. Ultimately, I let the grammar slide that time and began discussions about the nature of language and the purposes of writing. Through those discussions in my classroom, I began to realize that, to my students, writing online was separate from 119120school writing. They used different languages in each of those contexts. By asking them to complete school-related work (the discussion of a literary text) in a social space (their IM chat rooms), I blurred the line between home and school. What they produced was a rich blend of the two discourses. Digitalk Guide 02: Your, or my, two cents worth. Also: m.02, y.02 8: Oral sex 10Q: Thank you 143: I Love you ACORN: A Completely Obsessive Really Nutty person AITR: Adult in the room book: Cool C-P: Sleepy CICYHW: Can I copy your homework da: There E123: Easy as 1, 2, 3 EML: E-mail me later EOT: End of Thread (end of discussion) FE: Fatal error FS: For sale G2G: Got to go Gl: Google it I 1-D-R: I wonder IDK: I don’t know J/C: Just checking K: OK KIPPERS: Kids in parents pockets eroding retirement savings LTTIC: Look, the teacher is coming M4C: Meet for coffee MOS: Mom over shoulder N2MJCHBU: Not Too Much, Just Chillin. How Bout You? ne1er: Anyone here? nth: Nothing P911: Parent alert potato: Person over 30 acting 21 r u da: Are you there? smt: Something soz: Sorry s^: What’s up? u up: Are you up? w’s^: What’s up? W8: Wait wru: Where are you? X-I-10: Exciting ysdiw8: Why should I wait? zerg: To gang up on someone Digitalk Since my first encounter with nonstandard IM language, the terms used to describe digital writing have changed. The shift from “netspeak” to “textspeak” followed developments in technology that affected how and where adolescents produced digital writing. However, like much in the digital age, where change occurs fast and frequently, these terms are already obsolete. Today’s teens use both the Internet and their personal cell phones to communicate with peers, and patterns of language cross technological boundaries. The manipulation of standard spellings and conventions most often occurs when teens “talk” to each other by writing in texts, IMs, and social networking tools. There are nonstandard conventions that cross these digital spaces. Writing in these venues blends elements of written discourse with those of the spoken word, and what the terms netspeak and textspeak share conceptually is an attention to the oral nature of the language used in these spaces. Whether teens are sending text messages or IMs, they invariably think of the communication as “talking.” Talk, then, is the driving force behind much of the digital writing of adolescents. For these reasons, I call the language that adolescents use in digital spaces digitalk. The term captures the nature of the writing, which in most cases replaces verbal communication, and it encompasses the wide variety of digital technologies (phone, Internet, computer, PDA) that allow for this exchange. Manipulating language so that it efficiently conveys an intended message and effectively represents the voice of the speaker requires both creativity and mastery of language for communicative purposes. Becoming an adept user takes practice and knowledge of the conventions of a community. For an outsider, it is difficult to decipher and even harder to produce in an authentic way. Digitalk, then, is a new literacy of the digital generation. A recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that teens are writing more than ever and that much of this writing is done in digital spaces. Interestingly, 60% of teens do not see the writing that they do electronically as “real writing” (Lenhart et al. 2008: 4). Perhaps their view is shaped by the idea that they are talking to friends through IM, rather writing to them. However, their dismissal of digital writing also might be a product of the societal bias against the informal language they use in digital spaces. The Pew study documents that “a considerable number of educators and children’s advocates … are concerned that the quality of writing by young Americans is being degraded by their electronic communication, with its carefree spelling, lax punctuation and grammar, and its acronym shortcuts” (Lenhart et al. 2008: 3). I also hear these concerns from parents in my community. I’m alarmed by the prejudice that lies behind these statements. Many adults fail to realize that today’s teens are highly adept at using language and that their mastery of the digitally written word far surpasses that of many adults. Many adults fail to realize that today’s teens are highly adept at using language and that their mastery of the digitally written word far surpasses that of many adults. Teens like Lily and Michael have learned to manipulate written language for social communication. They merge multiple language systems, break rules systematically, create and manipulate language and usage, and effectively communicate ideas with an intended audience. In the process, they create their own rules and rituals that are accepted by members of their language community. Their digitalk is intricate and complex. But in school and among adults, it is seen as deficient. In school, students are expected to use academic language, a discourse that may or may not resemble the primary discourse of their out-of-school language practices. Lily and Michael, the two writers whose conversation opened this article, are digital natives (Prensky 2001), high school students who have grown up in a world saturated with communication technologies. They have access to computers in their homes and even in their bedrooms, and they carry cell phones wherever they go. Though they talk to their friends on the phone, they are just as likely, perhaps more likely, to communicate by text. Lily and Michael are immersed in a world outside of school where the written discourse differs from Standard English. In discussing the language of urban students who speak African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), Rebecca Wheeler and Rachel Swords (2006) explain that students must be taught to make choices about language, dialect, and register. They argue that teaching code-switching allows both home and academic discourse to have a place in the classroom. By valuing the language that students use outside of school, teachers can make school language more accessible. In short, out-of-school discourses are different, not deficient. Teachers should build on students’ home literacy as they help them to acquire academic language. Privileging Digitalk Wheeler and Swords studied the patterns of error in the writing of students who speak AAVE and found that they were directly related to the grammatical structure of AAVE. They contend that these writers “are not making mistakes in Standard English. Instead, they are following the grammar patterns of their everyday language” (2006: 9). As students translate thought to writing, they unconsciously conflate the two languages. Similarly, teens write—and perhaps even think—in digitalk. It’s not surprising, then, that they require practice to switch to a more formal language in school and that many teens admit that elements of digitalk do filter into their school work. Some researchers suggest that the prevalence of these errors is not what popular opinion believes. Anecdotal evidence from teachers, however, suggests that not all students are adept at making the switch. Thus, teachers need to ask two important questions: • 1. If students have trouble switching from digital language to Standard English, thus making frequent errors of standard usage in their school writing, how can teachers help them consciously switch to the appropriate language? • 2. If students use digital language outside of school in creative and analytic ways to discuss real issues with their peers, how can teachers harness its power to help students learn content? Giving digitalk a place in the classroom helps answer these questions. For example, one way to make students aware of the different contexts for language is to have them write, “Hello, how are you?” in four distinct settings: classroom with teacher, text conversation with friend, lunchroom with friend, at home with parent. As the class analyzes the language of the settings, students can begin to look critically at the way they write in different situations. (See Turner et al. 2009 for lesson ideas.) Conversations about language begin to ignite conscious choices for student writers. Following these conversations with an analysis of the writing they do in digital spaces will help them understand the choices they make in their digitalk. Some common patterns that emerge from the digital writing of adolescents include: