These communication media do not distract young people from grammar. They are fully aware of the need to adapt their style according to the context – school or private – of the broadcast.

Digital text communication, appreciated by young people, is generally accused of degrading the mastery of French. However, teenagers are not mistaken: a large majority (nearly two thirds) believe that this type of messages has nothing to do with what they consider to be a writing activity. These figures, reported in a joint study by the Pew Internet and the National Commission on Writing*, show that young people do not consider these different media to have any influence on their academic writing. The main reason for this is that teens have a purely utilitarian approach to technology. They see communicating via a computer or phone as a simple and convenient way to convey a message or information. This should not be confused with writing for personal or academic purposes. However, these different communication tools should not be left aside by the school system.

SMS = transmission of information

Explanation: they allow to simplify the relationship that the young person can have with the written thing. Students consider writing to be an important task. Nearly nine out of ten of them believe that it is necessary to know how to write properly for their professional future. According to the report, it is therefore important not to completely dissociate school writing from that used for electronic dialogues, but rather to bring them closer together. For young people, information and communication technologies are indeed part of everyday life: more than half of them say they can revise and write more easily in front of a computer than in front of a sheet of paper. “Being in front of a computer unblocks certain apprehensions: the student knows that he or she can make mistakes and correct them without it being noticeable. Another advantage is that the finished work is aesthetically pleasing. This aspect is very motivating“, underlines Alexandra M., in charge of the use of ICT at the Regional Center of Pedagogical Documentation of Versailles.

Facilitating the learning of writing

Relying on the various electronic communication tools to facilitate learning to write would make it possible to avoid what Sousan A., head of one of the think tanks set up by the National Writing Project, calls the “eating vegetables” ordeal. “These types of initiatives allow the student to practice. Even if he writes poorly, he writes. And they improve little by little,” confirms Alexandra M.. “ICT makes work more fun. The Versaille Academy hosts a “blog farm”, which allows each student to have his or her own blog, with themes and content administered by a teacher”, she adds. However, some confusion is inevitable: about 65% of the students surveyed admit to incorporating certain expressions used in electronic messages, such as the famous LOL (laugh out loud), smileys, or grammatical and spelling constructions specific to SMS, into their copies from time to time.

*The National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools and Colleges is a nationwide program established by the College Board in 2002 to develop ways to improve reading and literacy among young people.