Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 4 – Episode 76 – Life Skills – Understanding Netiquette

We have a life-skills write up on today’s agenda and this is going to be especially important for the majority of you non-NES speakers out there.

How good is your netiquette

Online communication is an integral part of everyone’s life and many academic courses. Whether we are meeting someone for the first time, or are just having a chat with someone we know, when we talk to someone in person we have clues such as body language, facial expressions and tone of voice that can help us understand the other person and in return be understood in the way we want. When communicating online, however, we don’t have these non-verbal clues to help us convey meaning. The typed word is all we have to communicate with and we can easily give the wrong impression. It’s therefore very important to be aware of the conventions of behavior, known as “netiquette,” or “internet etiquette.”

Be aware of your reader.

When you communicate online, all you can see is a computer screen. It’s easy to forget that real people read your messages. Be sensitive to your audience, and adapt your style accordingly. If you are writing to a friend or family member, emoticons and abbreviations such as textspeak are acceptable, but for more formal correspondence in an academic or professional situation, accurate spelling, grammar and punctuation are vital to create a good impression.

You don’t want to offend your reader and you want to make sure they understand what you’re saying.

Common courtesies.

When sending an email or message, make sure your subject heading reflects the content. Then open with a friendly and appropriate greeting and if necessary, introduce yourself first. be polite by saying “please” and “thank you.”

Avoid expressing yourself in a way that could offend the recipient. “Flaming’, for example, can spoil the atmosphere of ran online group.

“Trolling” is also a nuisance and disrupts discussion threads.

Be aware of your tone.

Because you don’t have the benefit of nonverbal clues when communicating online, the reader relies on the written message alone, so misunderstandings can occur.

Be wary of using irony or sarcasm.

Don’t shout! Using all capital letters is the same as shouting at someone who is right next to you. Use bold and or italics instead.

Gateway B2+


  1. Have you ever had an experience of bad netiquette?
  2. Which rules of netiquette do you follow?
  3. Are there any other rules of netiquette you would like people to use?
  4. What do you think are the three most important rules.


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