Grammar in the Internet Age: Changes in Attitudes (71847)

Session Information: Language Skills Development
Session Chair: Xirui Cai

Sunday, 12 November 2023 09:30
Session: Session 1
Room: Sri Nakron
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation

All presentation times are UTC + 7 (Asia/Bangkok)

This presentation concerns two surveys carried out among students on net-based courses at a university in Sweden concerning their attitudes to English grammar. In research, the norms that are appropriate for learners of English have been greatly debated. Native speaker norms are still often seen as the most authentic type of language for learners to aim for, but the appropriateness of non-native norms in particular contexts has been identified, especially in the World Englishes and English as a Lingua Franca fields (cf. Pinner, 2014, 2016). This research project aimed to investigate the attitudes to grammar of students on net-based rather than traditional campus courses to see if there was a shift in attitudes caused by the use of English online.

The first survey was answered by 100 participants, and demonstrated a nuanced attitude to norms, with both standard and non-standard norms seen as necessary complements to one another. Formal language use required a more standard grammar usage, while non-standard features like a lack of verb agreement were seem as acceptable in informal usage.

The second survey went into more detail into Internet language use. Classic spoken language norms like elliptical subjects were rated as perfectly acceptable, while abbreviated language such as acronyms and homophonic spelling were appropriate in informal contexts only.

An important finding from the two surveys was that informants accepted many non-standard norms but reported that they did not want to use them themselves. Thus, we can conclude from this project that informants have quite formal standards for themselves, but are more accepting of others’ errors than their own.

Abstract Summary
The presentation presents research into changing attitudes to grammar norms due to English being used in online learning contexts. Students studying on net-based courses in English were asked to give their attitudes to various examples of non-standard English usage, including typical norms from English used as a lingua franca and Internet usage such as abbreviations and elliptical sentences. Students expressed formal standard attitudes to norms for their own usage, but were much more forgiving when it came to non-standard usage by other speakers. Similarly, different non-standard grammar norms were more generally acceptable, but some were seen as completely unacceptable. This indicates that students of English have a more nuanced attitude to grammar, but are still quite formal towards their own usage.

Jonathan White, Dalarna University, Sweden

About the Presenter(s)
Dr Jonathan White is a University Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer at Dalarna University in Sweden

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