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The Effects of Social Media on Education

In: English and Literature

Submitted By west123
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Discuss, with the use of examples, two negative ways in which the social media has been affecting formal Standard English use in the Jamaica classroom and one methodology that a teacher of English might employ to combat these negative effects.

The social media craze is one that affects most if not all persons today. Whether we are old, young, from different races or cultures, we have been exposed to these channels of interaction in some way. Not only that but we have a wide range of these Medias to select from. While some operate one or two accounts, there are those with multiple social media accounts for example Facebook, Twitter, Tagged, Viber, Whatsapp and so on. These types of media serve many different purposes including the replacement of traditional news forms, keeping in contact with friends and family members and to promote businesses and social events. The reality of it all, however, is that everything has both advantages and disadvantages. In this case we examine the negative effects of social media on the use of Standard English in the Jamaican Classroom. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to emphasize the extent to which the use of social media has contributed to the inappropriate use of the Standard Jamaican English and the poor expression in written language among our Jamaican students. Jamaica has been described as a bilingual society with the Jamaican Creole (JC) and Standard Jamaican English (SJE) being the major and minor languages. However the problem being faced is that while our students have good mastery of the JC, it has become a difficult task to teach them how to use the SJE competently and appropriately. There is continuing concern about the unsatisfactory performance of many candidates in English language examinations at all levels, the inhibitions of many learners who are affected by the ambivalent attitude towards the use of Jamaican Creole in the school and society, and about the inaccurate or inappropriate use of both language forms in the wider community (Language Education Policy, 2001). The use of a language appropriately can be explained as being able to switch between formal and informal language in different situations. On social media the language used can be described as mostly informal even in business situations. There is a wide use of the JC, use of slangs for example ‘way up’ meaning to succeed and ‘shell it’ meaning something done well, abbreviations for example ‘DM’ meaning direct message, ‘BF’ meaning boyfriend and ‘TTYL’ meaning talk to you later and the common use of hashtags (#); a trend where words are joined together for example ‘#PrettyGirlsRock’. For our students they are affected in ways which prevent appropriate use of formal language. Take for example, when giving answers to questions or speaking in formal settings, they begin with the SJE and end with the JC or their ‘formal’ speech is infused with slangs and creole for example “I enjoyed it, it was amazing to see the performance. Him jus shell it yo!”.When interviewed a female, upper sixth form student said that she was affected in such a way that her expressions became minimal, as her speech was filled with slangs and she gave a personal example of an instance where she said “That girl’s brows look good, hashtag on fleek’. We see how she begins with the SJE, uses the literal term for the symbol (#) and completes her sentence with a popular slang. This example shows how social media use had negatively affected her use of formal language. This problem is maintained simply because our students have many opportunities in which they are immersed in the use of inappropriate language use because of social media. Social media in the very sense of the term is a collection of institutions for social interactions in cyber space. Often times these Medias have their own cultures of speaking or their own ‘dialect’. This dialect often consists of slangs, abbreviations, emojis and symbolic terms with which persons can communicate effectively. This ‘dialect’ could be seen as a language after considering the definition of language by Wadsworth, who states that a language consists of symbols which convey meaning, plus rules for combining those symbols that can be used to generate an infinite variety of messages. Most of our students are among the social media enthusiasts who have multiple social media accounts and yet have not successfully mastered the use of the Standard Jamaican English. In these situations it is easy to communicate in their first language which is the Jamaican Creole. They have also readily adapted the mode of communication that is more fashionable or popular and one that is easier to manipulate or coin on their own for example the use of abbreviations. This type of writing is often transferred into the academic arena as students not only express themselves in JC, but they misspell words for example ‘cool’ becomes ‘kool’, ‘youth’ become ‘yute’. They also tend to use deletion for example ‘just’ becomes ‘jus’. Not only that but the students’ writing is plagued by poor punctuation; including incorrect use of full stops, question marks and exclamation marks which on social media it is common to use multiple punctuations to express emotions or for emphasis, for example “what?!!!!” or ‘do. Not. Assume. We. Are. Friends’. The sixth former also gave an example of how social media affected her writing; she states that when writing a literature essay she wrote: ‘The efx (effects) is 2 allow readers to…’. Here we see where she had abbreviated the word effects and replaced the word ‘to’ with the number ‘2’. Unfortunately not many are able to identify when they have done so and this result in failing grades. Having identified the problems that arrive due to the prolong use of social media by our students, we have to determine how to solve this problem as future facilitators of the English –Language. Rather than isolate the source of the problem, which is social media, an effective and innovative teacher would use it to help solve the problem. E-learning industry states that faculty members had found it easier to approach their students via Facebook, and in many cases students prefer using Facebook for interacting with their classmates or downloading course material and communicating with lecturers than using their University’s official software. Facebook has been increasingly identified as an E-learning platform. It is evident that students will spend a great deal of their time online, in and outside of class. Considering this the teacher has to find a way to manipulate the use of social media in order to improve the students’ use of language and improve their writing skills. One method could be the creation of a class blog. This form of social media could be used by the teacher in many ways, for example to have the students translate a paragraph form the JC to the SJE or vice versa or get the students to comment on topics of interest from the syllabus using the SJE only and use autocorrect to gain marks towards their final grades. According to an article entitled ‘Exploring the impact of social media on language learning’, social media enriches the learning experience by allowing students and teachers to connect and interact in new and exciting ways. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter can provide a platform where users can engage in dialogue, exchange ideas and answer questions. In conclusion, social media has become a major part of our everyday lives. We use them to inform ourselves of currents events, keep in touch with loved ones and even as a medium to promote businesses and events. However, what has happened is the use of our SJE has been diminished and is being replaced by social media dialect and JC, which eventually affects the ability of our students to use the SJE appropriately in formal situations as well as how they express themselves in writing. What is essential however is the ability of the teacher to use this social media platform as an interesting tool to improve the teaching-learning exchange in the English-Language classroom.

Exploring the impact of social media on language learning. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2016, from
Jamaica and its education system. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2016, from http://jamaica- Facebook As An eLearning Tool: How Can Facebook Support eLearning? - eLearning Industry. (2015). Retrieved March 23, 2016, from elearning-tool
LANGUAGE EDUCATION POLICY - (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2016,
Wadsworth, T. (2007). An Introduction to Language (7th Ed). Retrieved March 23, 2016. from

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