Teachers at all levels often point to digital communication as a major cause for poor student writing skills. Admittedly, the instantaneous nature of social media and texting, not to mention Twitter’s 140-character limitation, has caused digital natives to get creative with language, and perhaps focus more on speed and brevity than on proper grammar and spelling.
However, some creative educators have discovered that the medium also provides ample opportunities for teaching spelling and punctuation. In 2013, a group of Brazilian students learning English got some positive press for correcting celebrities by responding (politely) via Twitter. College students needn’t confront their favorite singer or sports star, but they can definitely learn from their mistakes.
The folks at Grammarly analyzed celebrity tweets and found that musicians make more mistakes than other celebrities (writers, of course, making the least). So here are some examples of tweets by famous musicians that you could share with your students—and perhaps they could go and find more on their own:
- This is a classic Twitter gaffe that was subsequently deleted by Mary J. Blige (but alas, the Internet has a long memory). Even if auto-correct was responsible for “understand estimate,” it’s hard to explain away “intelligents.”
- Chris Brown is no model citizen—likewise, his tweets are consistent lessons only in how not to write. He got the apostrophe right, but might want to look again at capitalization (“To The”) and pronouns (that vs. who).
- Crooner Michael Buble needs to spend a little less time celebrating and a little more time on plural possessives (babies vs. baby’s).
- Celebs who haven’t achieved the Twitter verified badge often have issues proving their Twitter account is official. Lana Del Rey also needs to earn her punctuation badge (its vs. it’s).
- Jaden Smith uses title case for every tweet—which we may be able to overlook, if he learns his “to” from his “too.”
- Kanye is notorious for thinking it’s all about him, but here he actually should have started with “I.” Subject/object, Mr. West.
- Snoop Dogg tries to keep it simple, but in this case all he needed was an apostrophe in “it’s” instead of the one he has in “you’re.”
- Even spell check could not have told Meghan Trainor she wanted us to “hear” her new song.
- Will.i.am is as creative with punctuation as e.e. cummings—but he should also look into the subjunctive mood and use “were” when he’s wishful.
Bonus: The Huffington Post took the data from Grammarly and created this infographic to show which celebrities are the most or least accurate tweeters.