Initialisms

If you’re a teacher, you plan a lesson, and you think it should work, but you never really know if it will fly until it flies. There are no guarantees. At least, I haven’t found them.

But yesterday’s lesson on initialisms was a smashing success with my teen girls. I wrote initialisms like LOL, FHI, TMI, IMHO on the board, asked if they’ve seen it and where, and explained how we use it. We also discussed terms like “ego surfing” and the “five-second rule” and then keyboard pictures of frowns, smiles, and hearts.

These girls are at school all day, and they come here because their parents want them to learn English so I hate to do anything that looks like school work with books because they really don’t want to do it and then it’s no fun for any of us and we leave feeling like we endured something. (An English teacher should be able to do better than that run-on sentence but there you are.) Fun has to be a component of the lesson, because if it’s a miserable time, they won’t learn anything except that studying English is hard and boring.

I wanted to cheer when the girls asked for paper to write what the initialisms mean. They NEVER ask to write. They would rather talk all the time, and they do well at that, but write? Never. So we wrote on our papers and laughed about using LOL as a spoken word vs. written and I explained what XXOO means when your mom writes it on a note. Then we took turns answering questions like:

What shortcuts do you use in your own language?
Do you think initialisms should be included in dictionaries?
Have you heard of the five-second rule before? Do you agree with it?
Do you think older people are confused by initialisms?

I don’t think new dictionaries should include initialisms as words. I think electronic, condensed messages don’t use words as they’re meant to be used. But it’s a great way to have an English class for teens!

One thought on “Initialisms

  1. Love the post. It’s very relevant because I’m looking for fresh inspiration as I prepare for summer classes. I remember doing a session before with teenagers about texting shortcuts. There was NO lack of eager student participation in that session!

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