I doubt in high-school students literacy

The students on their language assignments more often are using „sh” instead of š

By Milena Stojanović

„Don’t know”, „I can’t” and „Is it” (translated in Serbian language these words are written together as one word) are often mistakes that can be noticed in the written tasks by the high school students from Niš. And a smily face at the end of an essay does not surprise a teacher anymore.

The technological development has changed the language of high school students, that instead of „paper planes”, they use Viber and instead of books and literary piece – search engines on their telephones.

-It is symptomatic that the students are copying things using their telephones. Once I give them a task or some theme to work on, they immediately start searching on the phones. I am often facing with a situation where three – four students have the same topic from the Internet, says a professor of Serbian language from the Technical school from Niš, Liljana Anđelković, that works in the school for 17 years now. 

She explains that the usage of the mobile phones, the students on their language assignments more often are using „sh” instead of š, „ch” instead of č or č and ć are often replaced by the letter c.

Students today cannot imagine their lives without media and modern gadgets. And that can be confirmed through an example of a high school student in fourth grade from the Technical school, who thinks that the video footage in a Shakespeare’s time was a totally normal thing. 

The majority of the students in their written assignments often get confused and mix printed and handwritten letters, they don’t use the standard Serbian language, and their vocabulary is very poor. The professor claims that if she doesn’t announce the language test several days before, that 90 percent of the high school students will hand over empty handbooks. And majority of them, she says, will be female high school students.

-I always offer my greater help when I notice that someone show interest. I offer my help to those who need to be prepared for the entering exam for the faculty. But, the number of these students is small, adds the professor of Serbian language.

On the other hand, her colleague from the high school for tourism and catering, Milena Ristić says that in eight years in that school she did not notice any substantial difference in literacy among the sexes, but she notes that the students in upper classes are more literate.

Her experience shows that even at the beginning of her work in that school, some of the students thought and still think that a slang are appropriate words during class.

-It was a class where we were working on a new material, the song „Maybe sleeps” from a poet Vladislav Petković Disa. After reading the poem, I asked the students what kind of impression left the poem on them. And one of the students answered: „Well, it is boring”. When I asked him can he use some other, more suitable word for boring, he said – It is dull, says the professor.

On the covers of the high school students’ notebooks from Niš, she also finds words that weren’t imaginable among previous generations. She finds fans slogans, English words, inappropriate expressions, symbols…and at the end of written assignments, the students always leave a smily sign and private messages to the professors, such „msm” – (I think) and „nmg” – (I can’t).

Jelena Stevanović from the Institute for pedagogical research made a research that shows that the technological development is influencing directly on literacy of the students. She has found that the constant use of the mobile phones and computers caused less usage of the mother and standard language, decreasing the vocabulary and negligence of the handwriting in general.

In her research she shows that an average 15-years old students in his or hers daily communication uses around a hundred words and according to the development standards, one 7-years old child should use around 2000 words. This research also showed that 13,3 percent of the students from the fifth till eight grade in elementary school, in their essays on Serbian language insert expressions from the English language such as: The end at the end of the essay, they signed their papers with By and then they write their name and surname, they write the months in the year with the capital letters accordingly with the English rules of writing. And 27 percent of the students, instead of using the letter a, they use the symbol @, and their feelings in their paper work express with a smily sign, not with words. Text messages that the young people exchange on a daily basis mainly, does not contain capital letters and punctuation.