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OMG! Txts make u gd at writing? Srsly? How 'text speak' can help pupils write essays By Anna Edwards Published: 10:06, 1 December 2012 | Updated: 10:06, 1 December 2012

Many have branded text messages as the bane of modern-day writing, claiming that the widespread use of abbreviations and slang is chipping away at basic writing skills. Yet a study by a research team for the Department for Education has found that text messages, blogging and social media can actually help hone the skills of youngsters. The report found that 'blog owners and pupils using a social networking site reported to be significantly better writers compared to pupils who don’t use blogs or social networking sites.'

The report discovered that many teenagers did not consider texting as 'writing' and still turned to pen and paper.


The report, called 'What is the research evidence on writing?' was penned by the Education Standards Research Team from the Department for Education and looked at the impact of technology on writing. A small-scale study investigated the links between text message abbreviations - called textisms - and school literacy outcomes on five classes of pupils aged ten to 12. The report said their study 'found no evidence that a child's development in written language was disrupted by using text abbreviations. 'On the contrary, the study found evidence of a positive relationship between use of textisms and word reading ability.' The report's authors claimed that they had evidence that showed a positive relationship between textisms and spelling. They said it could be because text messages require pupils to have an understanding of sound structures and syllables in words. 'As the authors note, this may be explained by the fact that use of textisms requires a certain degree of phonological awareness,' the report says. And those worried that the English language was being eroded by a younger generation who turned to their phones, instead of a pen and paper, to communicate with a friend, can rest a little. Although evidence suggested that most pupils engage in technology-based forms - such as texts or emails - at least once a month, they did not necessarily consider it 'real writing'. The report said that 60 per cent of teenagers taking part in an internet research project 'did not think that technology-based writing such as text messages, emails, instant messages or posting comments on social networking sites was "writing". The study did however show that while children still wrote in a traditional fashion - using forms such as letters, lyrics, fiction, diaries and poems - it was to a lesser extent than their habit going online on their mobile phones. However, some teenagers admitted that technology had an impact on their writing .


Twenty two per cent said they slipped in text message abbreviations like LOL - for 'laugh out loud' and using informal styles, for example missing out punctuation marks, in their work. The report also found evidence that girls enjoy writing more than boys, while Key Stage 2 pupils, enjoyed writing more than older pupils at Key Stages 3 and 4. Researchers also found that there was a difference in ethnic groups over enjoyment of writing. They said: 'Pupils from the white ethnic group enjoyed writing less than pupils from mixed, Asian and black ethnic groups. 'For example, 46 per cent of white pupils enjoyed writing very much or quite a lot, compared to 55 per cent of pupils from the mixed ethnic group, 57 per cent of the Asian group and 59 per cent of the black group.' For the first time in history, the volume of calls from landlines and mobile phones fell in July. By contrast, texting has never been more popular, with the average Briton now sending 200 a month, compared with just 70 in 2006. New research from telecoms regulator Ofcom reveals that the number of fixed-line calls continues to slump, by 10 per cent to 116billion minutes in 2011. But, for the first time after years of sharp rises, the number of mobile phone calls also dropped from 125billion minutes to 124billion minutes. By contrast, in 2011 more than 150billion texts were sent compared with 50billion five years ago.


Twtr? It's majorly bad! Leading headteacher condemns 'text speak' for eroding schoolchildren's language skills 

Survey asked teachers what 'text speak' they had noticed in pupils' work

Common abbreviations and slang words included 'innit' 'GR8' and 'phat'

'Hitler was majorly bad' and 'Hamlet was mental' also written in work

Leading headteacher has said 'text speak' 'erodes' pupils' language skills

By Laura Clark for the Daily Mail Published: 10:01, 24 March 2014 | Updated: 23:32, 24 March 2014

Protecting standards of English from the influence of text message and social media slang is one of the biggest challenges facing teachers, a leading headmistress has suggested. Caroline Jordan, head of a top private girls' school in Oxford, warned a generation of children are leaving school without a proper grasp of spelling and grammar because of the impact of so-called textspeak. Youngsters are also in danger of growing up with limited vocabularies because they spend so much of their free time on sites such as Twitter and Facebook instead of reading. Mrs Jordan, of Headington School where fees are up to £30,000-a-year, said government plans to introduce a maths qualification for sixth-formers who choose not to take an A-level in the subject were poorly thought through, and suggested an English assessment would be more useful. Her remarks follow complaints from teachers that pupils increasingly use abbreviations and colloquialisms in school work and tests. Examples highlighted by English staff include 'ur' for 'your', 'm8' for 'mate' and 'I donno huu u r' for 'I don't know who you are'.


In her latest blog, Mrs Jordan wrote: 'If we are going to make all students carry on with one subject at sixth form, why not English? 'Our English skills are constantly on display, often making the difference between landing a job and having a misspelled application filed in the bin. 'With the continuing reliance on technology, "textspeak" is eroding hardlearned skills in such basic areas as spelling and grammar.

Research from Coventry University showed pupils who made fewer punctuation mistakes when texting tended to be better at spelling (library image)

'Perhaps this is the area we should be seeking to protect above all else. A command of our own language in today's competitive world is essential.' She added: 'We should teach English in a traditional way. The correct use of grammar and spelling is important but there is going to be a whole generation which is not necessarily able to do that. 'Textspeak is having an inevitable impact on this generation and they need to realise when it's appropriate to write the correct response to a question.


'If youngsters are not reading in the same way, and if they are spending a lot of time using social media, I wonder how much new vocabulary they are exposed to.' A poll of 500 teachers found that many youngsters used colloquialisms in formal written work, with phrases such as 'Macbeth was pure mental' and 'Romeo was a numpty wasn't he?'. GCSE and A-level examiners have also warned that text message slang is appearing in students' answers, revealing how youngsters are becoming careless in their use of it. Meanwhile studies have shown a tentative link between frequent text messaging and poor written English. An American study, by Pennsylvania State University, detected a decline in scores in grammar tests if text messages contained lots of shortened words. Mrs Jordan also suggested the syllabus for the planned sixth-form maths exam should be more practical. 'I would like to see more attention paid to essential practical aspects such as financial and household management and a clear understanding of the sometimes bewildering world of interest rates and mortgages,' she added.


Texting 'can boost children's spelling and  grammar' By Judith Burns Education reporter, BBC News  

13 June 2014 From the section Education & Family

Digital devices are a "pervasive aspect of children's daily lives". They offer opportunities as well  as risks say the researchers  Children's unorthodox spelling and grammar while texting does not stop them learning  the rules of formal English, suggests research. Just over 160 children, aged between eight and 16, from the West Midlands, took part in the  snapshot study.  The researchers compared spelling and grammar in formal tests and in text messages, at the  start of the project and again after a year.  The results showed the most creative texters were among the best spellers. The children were asked to copy out all their text messages over a two­day period.

'Creative violations' They were also asked to do a range of spelling, grammar and cognitive tests.  The process was repeated after 12 months. 


The researchers analysed the numbers and types of grammar and spelling "violations" in the  texts and compared them with the same children's results in the written tests.  They found that for the primary age children in the sample, use of ungrammatical word forms and unconventional spelling in texts was linked to better spelling ability 12 months later.  For secondary students, the use of word reduction when texting, was also associated with better  spelling.  For primary children, unorthodox punctuation and capital letters were linked with worse  performance in the second set of tests but the reverse was true of secondary age pupils. 

Primary phonics Clare Wood, professor of psychology in education at Coventry University, said the results could  be put down to the fact that text abbreviation was largely phonetically based.  "So when children are playing with these creative representations of language they have to use  and rehearse their understanding of letter­sound correspondences: a skill which is taught  formally as phonics in primary classrooms.

Texting can offer children the chance to practise their understanding of how sounds  and print relate to each otherProf Clare Wood, Coventry University "So texting can offer children the chance to practise their understanding of how sounds and print  relate to each other."  Prof Wood said the work showed that concerns adults have about the pervasive use of digital  devices among children, who are now more likely to read on them than on traditional print  sources, "are not supported by current evidence".  The researchers urge schools to continue to teach children the conventional rules of formal  written grammar, making them aware of contexts where they are essential and when they can be relaxed.  The work, published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, was carried out by  researchers at Coventry University and the University of Tasmania. 


Text-speak: language evolution or just laziness? Pupils are becoming increasingly "bilingual" in English and text-speak, a new study claims. But is it just a simple decline in proper language skills, asks Anne Merritt.

Text-speak: shortened bits of language like “m8” and “b4” are altering the way that children communicate. Photo: Alamy

By Anne Merritt 9:34AM BST 03 Apr 2013 Comments Schoolchildren as young as eight are showing a growing proficiency in bilingualism, according to a recent poll of UK parents and teachers. The only hitch? They’re bilingual in English and "text-speak" – the phonetic or acronymic bites of language such as “L8R” or “LOL.”


What’s more, this text-speak is creeping beyond their smartphones and into pupils’ everyday language. Mencap, a charity for learning disabilities, sponsored a poll of 500 UK parents and teachers. Two-in-three teachers reported that they regularly find text-speak in pupils' homework. Over threequarters of parents say they have to clarify the cryptic text-speak in their children’s texts and emails. Almost all participants surveyed (89 per cent) said that this growing prevalence of text speak is creating a veritable language barrier between themselves and children. Clearly, these shortened bits of language like “m8” and “b4” aren’t just for concise texting with friends. They are altering the way that children communicate. But is this linguistic evolution, or just laziness? Do children use text-speak because they no longer understand the boundaries of formal and informal English? Or, are children consciously changing those boundaries through a one-size-fits-all communicative tone? Call me a traditionalist, but it doesn’t look like a revolution to me. Instead, it looks like a simple decline in proper language skills, born out of a digitally literate culture that has grown too comfortable in an age of abbreviations and spellchecks. Yes, recent studies from Coventry University and the University of Hawaii have reported that children can still distinguish between formal and informal speech. They also note that frequent use of text-speak doesn’t necessarily correlate with poor essay writing skills. So students are still capable of developing arguments, writing thesis statements, and structuring their thoughts. They’re just doing it with “u” instead of “you.” It’s a problem of productive language skills. Though children learn proper English in school, they’re not applying it outside the classroom, and the lessons aren’t sticking. Experts say that children write more these days than they did 20 years ago, because of texting and social media. Most of that writing, however, is in text-speak, and that form of language becomes a bad habit. Students are now so used to writing in text-speak that they can’t easily remember (or apply) proper language rules. Communication is becoming more global in scope and more electronic in form. By the time these children finish school and enter the workforce, this decline in the spoken word will become greater. Written communication, in a formal report, an email, or even a text, isn’t just happening on the colloquial level anymore, and children need to be educated on how to use technology in formal, professional contexts. Teachers and parents need to encourage children to discern the right time and place for casual language. Children also need to hone their proper English skills so that they can call upon correct spelling and grammar when it’s needed. Text-speak in pupils' essays may be amusing, albeit cringeworthy, nowadays. It’s not as amusing to imagine our children 10 years from now, as adults, texting “can u plz c me?!?” to their bosses. Top 10 bizarre text-speak spellings After – Rfd Tonight – 2nite Great – Gr8 Before – B4 Tomorrow – 2moro Cool – kwl


Mate – M8 Pizza – Peetsa True – Churoo That – Dat

(source: Mencap/Del Monte Fruit Burst poll)

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