A south London school has banned pupils from using slang, in an attempt to improve their communication skills and enhance their ability to talk to different types of people.
A noble intention, but is banning language any way to make young people more expressive and articulate? I doubt it.
The school in question is Harris Academy Upper Norwood School in Croydon. It has banned pupils from using words such as aint, extra, innit. Sentences starting with the word basically, or ending with yeah have also been proscribed by the school.
There is no punishment as such for using these words, but the school is taking a zero tolerance stance. If any of the offending words are spoken the pupil is challenged and asked to reflect on the language they use.
Such a focus on language can only be a good thing. The problem though is that through slang children are often able to express themselves freely, using language creatively and liberally to convey their thoughts, feelings, emotions, points of view and their humour.
Obviously, slang is not always the most appropriate form of language. By its very nature it’s often only understood by young people or those in the know. Using it to communicate to wider audiences – teachers, adults, prospective employers – is not always a great idea as those groups may either not understand it, or otherwise take a dim view of its use.
Even so, banning slang is not going to make children more articulate. They are hardly going to start thumbing through the Thesaurus to find substitute words and expressions to replace the offending slang.
What’s more, banning slang may make some children feel that they are unable to use the one form of English they are comfortable with. Without recourse to slang their ability to communicate and articulate may dry out.
That’s not a great idea…innit.