Several weeks ago, I published/posted “Is “i” the New “I”? I was so surprised to see more than 150 teachers (and even those who are not teachers) weigh in. Here is the initial post followed by a summary of how teachers feel about the use of “i” by students learning English, as well as a few solutions that were posted. Thank you for your comments.
Last week, I started teaching online courses for the winter semester including a university level academic writing course. To my horror, it appears that “i” is quickly replacing “I”. Several emails that I received from students last week used the dreadful “i”!
“i enrolled late in the course so can i have an extension?”
When I see students use “i” instead of “I”, it is like hearing finger nails on a blackboard. What has happened? I can only assume that texting language is the culprit.
I reminded (or warned) students at the beginning of the course that I was an ESL teacher for 20 years so I rarely miss an error! I asked them not to use “i” for “I” but somehow it didn’t seem to make much of a difference based on the emails I received over the weekend. I have to say that the use of “i” is one of my writing pet peeves. I would love to hear from other teachers about how they are handling this.
Here is a brief summary of the comments that were posted:
The majority of teachers said that:
- the use of “I” is due to laziness (“Are you not able to find the shift key? How lazy are you?”)
- the use of texting language is making its way into academic writing
- other pet peeves include appearance of “u” for you, and b/c for because, gonna and wanna.
“I think today’s internet users slaughter the language for the sake of speed! We should stick to the spelling and grammar rules no matter what!”
A non-teacher posted “I am not a teacher but that ‘i’ annoys me a lot as well. Some people in the workplace use it emails too and I don’t like it. If someone send me an email full of ‘i’, I find it hard to take them seriously”.
A good point was raised by another teacher who said that “Arabic does not capitalize anything. A beginning level EFL class must spend several lessons recognizing, underlining, copying examples to learn (no acquisition) where capital letters are required”.
Here are some of the solutions from fellow educators:
- highlight those lower case letters and remind them about proper mechanics
- circle i using a red pen
- identify the error, and clarify the reason why it is not correct
- train students to use the correct forms of language
- vary drills and exercises that focus on such minor errors
I understand the use of “i” in informal writing but I feel very strongly that it does not belong is formal writing. Students need to know the difference between informal (Hey, how’s it goin’?) and formal (How are you?) in all forms of communication whether it is oral or written.
Thanks for reading. Patrice
Download free ESL materials at https://patrice-palmer.mykajabi.com