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Should schools be allowed to ban slang words like 'peng'?

By Sue Smith

This is an interesting article. I suspect the issue is much less of a problem in Hong Kong where students don’t tend to use a lot of unusual slang but informality is very common.

I think that students need to realise that in a formal document – an essay or a university application – it is not appropriate to use slang. But to go as far as to ban it is likely to be ineffective. Students spend a lot more time away from the influence of their teachers and the classroom than they do in it. If they use slang or informal language on social media or with their friends, a classroom ban on this type of language is probably not going to produce a lot of formal language in informal or social settings.

It is amusing when a teacher first reads in an essay that Romeo and Juliet are hooking up but students do need to understand that that language is not ideal when it comes to writing a formal response to a topic about the play. On the other hand, students need to relate to the materials they are taught in the classroom and if they think that they can only use formal language to understand that material it will probably make it even less relatable for them.

In the end, language changes all the time. New meanings, new trends and new fashions in language use will always appear and young people are likely to always use it.

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