Netiquette For ESL Classrooms

Learner Description: These rules apply to English as a Second Language learners in an online or in-person class that involves digital communication. The rules are applicable to intermediate and advanced English learners of any age.

Netiquette Introduction

Netiquette is a combination of the words "network" and "etiquette." Netiquette is the standards and rules for proper online communication. Different online environments have different netiquette standards. This page will discuss some general rules for communicating online in an ESL classroom environment.

Be Friendly and Professional

This is rule #1 for a reason. It is the most important rule for communicating in an online environment with colleagues and classmates. When communicating with teachers and other students you need to use a polite and professional tone. This includes proper titles and names. Avoid slang and overly casual communication, including emojis and initialisms ( i.e. LOL, OMG, LMAO).


Never write in all capital letters when communicating. The reader will get the impression that you are yelling at them. This can lead to unnecessary arguments and hurt feelings. When communicating in a professional or educational setting it is important to use proper grammar and punctuation. Use exclamation points sparingly, and only one per sentence.

Don’t Attack Other People’s Opinions

It is OK to disagree with people. People have different opinions on certain issues. It is acceptable to state your opinion and why you think that way. However, it is not acceptable to criticize and belittle other people’s opinions that you don’t agree with. You can express your views without criticizing other people’s views. If someone’s opinion upsets you, I recommend waiting until you have calmed down to send a response. You can send a message later, but you can’t take it back once it is out there.

Make Sure That Your Message is Clear

When communicating and posting online, reread your text before you send it to make sure that the message is clear. It is a good practice to read the message out loud to check for errors. Make sure that you understand exactly what you are saying. If you can’t define a word, don’t put it in a message. Keep in mind that when people do not see your facial expression and body language meaning can be difficult to convey. Jokes are risky because you can't be sure that people know you are joking.

Keep It Simple

Keep your sentences concise. Don’t add unnecessary words. Avoid run on sentences or putting too many ideas in one sentence. If it is easier to say something in two sentences than one, use two. Messages should be just long enough for you to clearly state what you need to say.