Table Rock Middle School



Young adolescents are very expressive in their written and spoken language. Young adolescents have their own popular lingo, words used in spoken language and in written language. "Beast" is one of these popular and versatile words among young adolescents, and we have heard it used as a noun, adjective, or verb. Often the words "retarded" and "gay" are used as derogatory descriptors. Also, "text talk" can be heard in everyday speech (OMG, LOL), and is seen within literature assignments (u, thru, cuz, etc.). Unfortunately "text talk" is not understood by all, thus making it difficult to understand what is actually being said. 

Strong emphasis on proper grammar is essential in Language Arts curriculum in order to combat the growing trend to use word shortcuts and unconventional spellings characteristic of "text talk."  We must devise ways to help adolescents understand in which situations using slang and "text talk" are appropriate and in which situations they will need to use conventional spellings and grammar to express themselves. 


For many students at Table Rock, English is a second language.  One such group is the Hmong population. For many ESL students, learning and socializing can be difficult. Often students of the same native language segregate themselves in and out of class by forming groups and speaking in their native language. Not only is it challenging for the ESL students to communicate to teachers and classmates, but it is equally difficult for teachers and classmates to communicate to some ESL students.

Dialect is another factor that challenges communication. The majority of students at Table Rock speak with a local "Southern" dialect, yet there are students who do not. Students who speak with a different dialect may struggle to convey what they are actually trying to say. It is worth noting that regardless of students' ethnicity, there seems to be a common "southern drawl". 

Also, the lack of an extensive vocabulary make daily tasks more frustrating to students. Although students are familiar and have heard certain words, they may not understand the meaning of these words.  Without knowing the definition, it is hard for young adolescents to apply a word to speech or assignments. Upon observation, students had difficulty with defining and effectively using words such as hydro, dense, and bias. Although these words may seem common to adults, they are foreign to many students. The students who asked about these words were being tested and were unable to answer the questions with confidence due to the lack of understanding.  Many Language Arts teachers use weekly vocabulary words and quizzes in order to increase student vocabulary.  Although students may be able to pair the word with its definition, when asked to write sentences using the word in context, students often were unable to accomplish the task.  It may be beneficial to incorporate new methods for teaching vocabulary to the current Language Arts curriculum by including various learning activities to appeal to different students' interests, such as learning by synonyms or free-writing.