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Teach text-speak to 'improve pupils' grammar'

News | Published in TES Newspaper on 5 November, 2010 | By: Michael Shaw

Pupils should study slang and text-message abbreviations to help their understanding of standard English, according to two academics.

Writing in The TES today, Dan Clayton and Professor Dick Hudson of University College London call for stronger teaching of grammar, because students in Britain appear less aware of grammatical terms than they were before the introduction of the national curriculum and are falling behind their counterparts in other countries.

But they suggest that teachers should be less worried about pupils' use of local language forms such as "we likes" or slang and text English, because these can be studied to help them appreciate standard English.

"Studying the forms and structures of regional varieties, street slang, text messaging and spoken language alongside the forms and structures of standard English - as a basis for mastering standard vocabulary, spellings, punctuation tricks, style-shifts, rhetorical devices and grammatical patterns - should be seen not as dumbing down, but as a positive move into the real language of real speakers," they write.

"Linguists know young people are adept at code-switching - shifting between different forms and registers of a language - but to do this they need at least two codes, and one of them should be standard English."

Insight, pages 34-35.

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Comment (2)

  • I found this a fascinating article, regional dialects are one thing but is txting really becoming it's own regional dialect? Is the virtual world creating new geographical areas? Took me back to my college days talking about socio-linguistics!

    These are useful free downloadable classroom resources from the MICAF that look at using txting for meaning in English. Maybe of use to someone!

    Primary KS2

    Secondary KS4

    I do think that eventually txting will become as popular as shorthand, some bits will survive in popular language, LOL, BRB etc, ditto, ibed ; ) but like any language, the truely popular abbreviations will remain I guess. Anyone remember "Mafiking"?

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    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    12 November, 2010


  • I'm not sure if it's a regional dialect as such, although linguists have been picking up a degree of regional variation in the language of texting itself (and Twitter, in fact).

    I think it's an interesting area to look at because it's in that middle ground between planned written language and spontaneous spoken discourse, so it has some really interesting features that can be explored - grammatically, stylistically and semantically - with students of all ages.

    Whether the abbreviations currently used in texting will survive is probably down to the technology as much as the language habits of the users, I think. If predictive text becomes the norm and it's quicker to text the whole word rather than an originally shorter version of it, we might see a swing back to more standard forms. Having said that, I suspect some of those acronyms and initialisms are here to stay, especially LOL.

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    12 November, 2010


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