Does text messaging harm students' writing skills?

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Anonymous (not verified)

English, text messaging and more

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Well, I have to say as a MS teacher, I find it dishearening that many teachers of older students are pointing their fingers at MS teachers. When the students come to us lacking basic skills, we do what we can to mend it together, but it is impossible to overcome all obstacles the students bring wtih them. I remember short hand (and I'm not over 50), I also have a cellphone capable of texting, but I find texting that comes into papers being handed in for an English paper unacceptable. I am by no means perfect at grammar or punctuation.

No fingers can be pointed at any one grade level as far as not "catching" the student's skills or lack thereof. We are all to blame. We all have so many things to make sure to cover that mastery sometimes goes out the window, much to the disadvantage of the student. I have students in the 7th grade that have NO IDEA what a noun or a verb is. What do I do? Do I not cover something in the curriculum to make sure that each student gets it? And then when do I move on to another subject? Do I wait to make sure that EVERY student gets it?

Like I said, texting is an issue that is causing issues in formal papers. However, so is the lack of mastery. what should we do?

Karen (not verified)

Speeding our communications capabilities

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I agree. I also teach juniors and seniors, and I'm the yearbook adviser, and one of those "younger" teachers who use text messaging. I even text students when necessary. Issues in writing definitely stem from students' junior high education and from their personal reading habits. The kids who read on their own have much fewer problems whether they text regularly or not. I also like what you said about technolgy growing and speeding our communication capabilities. As teachers, we should be leaders in using the newest in technology. We should be the ones guiding our students in faster, newer ways to communicate.

Anonymous (not verified)

Does text messaging harm students' writing skills?

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YOU ARE WRONG PAULA!

SPELL and GRAMMAR checkers DO NOT catch everything, and to profess this is to deny the truth. Spell checkers cannot pick up on inferred meaning:

For hours.}
Four hours.} (All the words are spelled correctly in all three, but what did the writer intend?)
Fore hours.}

Students need to be exposed to rhetoric as early as the 8th grade and hopefully by the 10th. Rhetoric is a lost art. Grammar is all but extinct (read some of our student work).
To graduate here, students only need write a 3 paragraph essay. This is appalling to say the least!

Paula (not verified)

Does text messaging harm students' writing skills?

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I was recently involved in a needs assessment survey that was sent to students in our K-8 school and was very disappointed in the writing skills of participants.

Can this be attributed directly to texting? I doubt it, but I do think that in this age of technology the mainstays of education are being overlooked. Math isn't important because everyone has calculators on their computers and phones, spelling and grammar aren't important because when you've finished typing, spell/grammar checker will correct everything. Handwriting hard to read? Never mind, use a computer instead.

On a positive note, texting gives students a greater abiity to take comprehensive notes during lessons using the abbreviations they use on their phones...

No doubt I've made some typos in this comment, but it's not because I text...

Anonymous (not verified)

Text messaging does have value

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I agree completely! Sometimes I need to communicate a quick message and find it frustrating that not everyone can read or receive texts! (And, btw, I am over 50!) Anyone who criticizes the use of texting must be too young to remember Shorthand. Although, it was pretty much non-existent when I was in school, my mom was a champion at it, receiving prizes for her speed and accuracy! She was also the world's best speller! (Ok, so I'm exaggerating, but, she was the one who always...still...corrected me.)Using it in her job till she retired, she writes beautifully. No harm done there!

jim kilkenny (not verified)

Text messaging

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We are a society that denigrates history. Hey, dudes, Cool cats, Bad ones, is it plain or a pain to you to note that youth have always invented language? I think they (we) do (did) it to have a way of speaking that the older generation can't get in to and subvert. Kids really hate being subverted by us oldsters. They want space and if a new language gives them space to grow and experience on their own, so be it. I see no problem with text messaging, as long as we keep teaching report writing, essays and stories. Then a little language play is always appropriate--or is it essential?

digitallearning, Juneau, Alaska (not verified)

Text messaging is like learning another foreign language

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I am impressed that young people have essentially invented a new language based on the technology most of them have access to: cell phones. Anyone who has tried to send a text message discovers pretty quickly that using correct grammar and spelling words in their entirety is an extremely tedious task to perform on a miniscule keypad. That said, students do need to be taught traditional writing skills, as well as when various forms of communication are appropriate to use. Street language is not acceptable in most workplaces. Speaking only Spanish in a French class may adversely affect one's grade. English classes should be no different. Communicating clearly and effectively in many venues is key to success in today's world, IMHO.

Chuck Fellows (not verified)

Text messaging--get used to it

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All I can say is "Teachers, get used to it." All languages change over time. Technology has simply compressed time.

And where is it written in law that the rules of english are the most effective for communicating ideas and concepts. Upon close examination the rules we use are not really very good for effective communication (clarity of intent and purpose).

Read "Eats Shoots and Leaves" before you comment. Or is it "Eats, shoots and leaves"?

Anonymous (not verified)

Technology is not going away and neither will text messaging

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Teaching seniors, I have not seen much "textspeak" show up in my students' writing. Their grammatical issues stretch back to inadequate instruction in middle school and junior high. Their socioeconomic and cultural background has much more of an influence on their speech and writing than how much they text message each day.

Quoted from above: "it is doing them a disservice to encourage the use of text language, when most of them will not use that language, post high school."

But how can you think they'll never use it once they graduate? Have you ever been in a college classroom? Do you think that cell phones are just going to go out of style? Why are all of the newest, top of the line phones the kind with the QWERTY-type key pads?

If you think text language is just going to go away, you're not thinking very far ahead. The whole point of telecommunications is the instantaneous trasmission of information, is it not?

Think of how fast communication has sped up in the past decade. The vast majority of high school student have cell phones, even those students living well below the poverty line. As technology progresses, technology will continue to lean towards ways to transfer information between point A and point B as fast as possible.

With this in mind, I just can't see a dialect of a English like this, this shorthand "textspeak" as some have called it, going anywhere any time soon.

Sit in your teacher's lounge or faculty cafeteria one day and watch how many teachers are texting. You might be suprised. Maybe not the older crowd who didn't grow up with much of the technology we have today, but your twenty-somethings are doing it, and that's the generation your new teachers will be coming from.

Since one of the most difficult tasks a teacher has before them is to get their students actively engaged in their learning, then would it not be a good idea to find a way to incorporate text messaging into your instuction somehow? Since the vast majority of your students are using it anyways, think about how you could get them actively involved in mastering the content, while still communicating in a method that is both familiar and also interesting to them.

While doing so, you could help them learn ways to write better and more formally without turning them off completely by denouncing the ways in which they communicate.

Kristen Montgomery (not verified)

The real harm in overlooking the power of text messaging

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As teachers of writing, we have an opportunity to teach important lessons about audience and appropriateness using a form of writing that students are already fluent and adept in: text messaging. Our students comfortably use this compact form of informal communication to create and convey meaning, and they do it with skill. Harm comes from overlooking the pervasiveness and power of text messaging in today’s youth culture. More harm comes from overlooking its potential as a valuable learning tool.

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