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Lesson Plan

Audience, Purpose, and Language Use in Electronic Messages

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Audience, Purpose, and Language Use in Electronic Messages

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 50 minutes
Lesson Author

National Council of Teachers of English



From Theory to Practice



With the increasing popularity of e-mail and online instant messaging among today's teens, a recognizable change has occurred in the language that students use in their writing. This lesson explores the language of electronic messages and how it affects other writing. Furthermore, it explores the freedom and creativity for using Internet abbreviations for specific purposes and examines the importance of a more formal style of writing based on audience.

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As NCTE Past President Leila Christenbury explains it, students like to communicate by instant messaging and e-mail-and since they've embraced it, why not use this writing opportunity as a teachable moment? "Kids have always played with words and used slang," states Christenbury in the Greenville News, "They know the language they use with each other at the mall is not the same language they use with their mother or grandmother in the kitchen." Addressing the times when students do use Internet abbreviations in an inappropriate writing situation is simply a task of discussing how audience and purpose affect language use.

Further Reading

National Council of Teachers of English. "Rest Assured-Students, Teachers, and Language Are "'Alive and Kickn.'" The Council Chronicle (May 2003).


"Do u rite gr8? Some English teachers say no." Greenville News. January 16, 2003.

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