Does texting affect your spelling especially when you use a lot of abbreviations or text speak? This seems like a perpetual question.
Just a few days ago, I wrote about how text messaging will be outdated soon and then I read this article from The Telegraph saying that text messaging “improves children’s spelling skills”. The article is about a research performed by academics who dedicate a lot of time in research. Despite this fact, I found myself scratching my head after reading the article.
Notice the quotes in the article? I think that even the editor of The Telegraph somewhat disagree with the notion that SMS helps children do better on spelling. There are many researches on this subject and you can find related articles in The Telegraph website.
There were similar researches conducted by Coventry University way back in 2006 that links texting to high literacy skills saying that there was “no evidence” that text speak may harm children literacy skills. The University of Toronto report produced similar result when they researched about instant messaging.
In addition, University of Alberta carried a study in 2009 which somehow explains the missing link:
“Kids who are good spellers [academically] are good spellers in instant messaging…. and kids who are poor spellers in English class are poor spellers in instant messaging.”
The study carried out by University of Alberta was done in a relatively small sample of only 40 students so further tests might be needed to verify the initial result.
Now, here is my opinion. I respect all the time and effort these academics put into their researches but somehow none of these researches clearly explains the link between texting and improving children’s spelling. Take note that instant messaging is somewhat similar to text messaging but in a phone you are constrained to 140 characters most of the time, and not long ago qwerty keyboards on phones are not popular, so you are likely to make abbreviations more often using keypads compared to typing instant messages when you have access to a full-sized keyboard.
My wife is an English language teacher and I can attest that this is not accurate in the Philippines. The conclusion of the researches I mentioned above also stirred people to call some of these researches BS and I understand them because it is common to find text message slang not only in school work today but also in the office, online communities and mainstream media. I don’t know how big the problem is in other countries but here in the Philippines, we saw the rise of Jejemon last year and it is not something I can be proud of.
This is a public service announcement: text messaging may stick a little longer so I strongly suggest to practice correct grammar and spelling when possible.
To wrap it up, maybe the universities conducting researches on this subject could mash-up their data and find the correlation among spelling mistakes, the IQ of the students, innate spelling abilities of the sample and the frequency of their text abbreviations. Then maybe we could have a definitive result on this subject to find the link between texting and spelling proficiency, and stop the debate once and for all.