For everything, there is an appropriate time and place. Because of our phones, we are used to communicating with others informally and quickly. We use abbreviations and contractions, we drop word endings, and we use emoticons. However, the way we text is not appropriate when we are writing at work or in class. At work or in class, you do not want to write sentences such as:
- I wanna attend the meeting.
- I’m gonna have the report finished soon.
- My teacher asked me: R U OK?
- That made me 🙂
Of course, I understand what they mean; however, their way of saying it is too casual for the context.
If you are communicating in English at work or in class, here are some tips.
- Do not use contractions. Spell out the entire word.
I’m studying engineering. → I am studying engineering.
In my country, women can’t drive. → In my country, women cannot drive.
- Do not write spoken English. Avoid reduced forms.
I wanna be married someday. → I want to be married someday.
I’m gonna have three kids. → I am going to have three kids.
He’s comin’ by later. → He is coming by later.
- Do not use texting slang.
He hopes to have his own business l8r. → He hopes to have his own business later.
What do U think? → What do you think?
- Do not use emoticons.
Earning a high salary would make me 🙂 . → Earning a high salary would make me happy.
These four points can be summed up in this way: “When in doubt, spell it out.”
- Never use curse words.
F*** yeah! → Certainly!
This last point is especially important. When we are learning a foreign language, it can be difficult to know the strength of the swear words that we hear in songs or movies. They don’t seem quite real to us. It is safest to assume that your teacher should be treated with the same formality and respect that you would show your boss or an older person in your country. This is true even if your language teacher in the U.S. seems close in age to you and is trying to make you feel comfortable as a language student. The setting of the classroom is a formal one. As we like to say, “Better safe than sorry.”