One big problem with being a writing teacher is that people expect you to observe the conventions of writing every time you put a word on paper or pixel.
A second big problem with being a writing teacher is that people expect you to teach your students to observe the conventions of writing every time they put a word on paper or pixel.
For you and your students to come anywhere near meeting those public expectations, your need to know which writing conventions your readers expect. That is easier said than done.
While I’m sure you know that not every audience has the same expectations, your students may not. Students’ most frequent interactions are with other students. As a result, students can fail to notice communication standards among other population groups. A tenth grader in Pine Bush, NY, may find it easier to make himself understood by another teen in Paris or Pyongyang than to write so he can be understood by the 57-year-old owner of the local coffee shop. However, if that student wants a job in the local coffee shop, he needs to meet that employer’s expectations.
In general, written communications with people outside one’s immediate family and friends should observe five conventions of standard edited English (SEE):
- Thoughts should be presented in full sentences.
- Sentences should begin with capital letters.
- Proper nouns should be capitalized.
- The only abbreviations used should be those in a standard dictionary.
- Texting spellings (like uR for you are) should not be used.
- Language that might offend others should not be used.
Linda G. Aragoni