Everyone is texting everyone else in the world today. Also called SMS or Short Message Service, it has invaded all communication gadgets, making it universally acceptable across gender and age; and most importantly, making it convenient, and like all things in today’s world, done NOW!
Educators – and more specifically – school teachers worry about the impact this instant technique has on language learning, leading to the flouting of grammatical norms and the lack of sentence structure and punctuation in the student’s language patterns. There is scant respect for vocabulary in the traditional sense of the term since it is replaced so effortlessly by pictograms, acronyms, and abbreviations. The slang that is used is very aptly also called txt spk because the idea behind the communication is to use as few characters as possible as originally SMS would only allow 160 characters, and therefore the sender had to be very creative in shortening and abbreviating all the information that needed to be sent. However, what worries, nay… nags teachers is that texting has led to impoverished language in the majority of cases.
Let’s leave it to linguists to deal with the decline of formal language. What can we as teachers do to use texting to liven up the classroom, and in the process help students understand that there is a different and a more correct way of writing?
Websites such as http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp and http://mashable.com/2012/09/21/text-messaging-history/#ug8C3s5kxZqx give a clear list of the texting words in vogue. Why not use some of these texts and have students decode them and then write them out in acceptable language, which means making sure that the structure is grammatically acceptable, the words are spelt out in their full and correct form, and the necessary punctuation is inserted? At the end of the exercise, some students may discern that decoding text messages is sometimes as perplexing as writing flawless sentences.
Teachers could begin with the easy one-liners so that students understand what aspects of the language they need to focus on before they deal with the more complex passages.
im w8ing for u outside
This sentence needs to be rewritten as: I’m waiting for you outside. The two features missing in the sentence as far as punctuation goes are the apostrophe and the full stop. Additionally, the words waiting and you need to be spelled out in their full form.
The author is a teacher educator and language trainer based in Hyderabad. She can be reached at email@example.com.