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This hdlne is sign I am v liter8

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David Gregory | 14:06 UK time, Friday, 22 January 2010

Car advert using Driving along the Aston Expressway this morning I passed an advertising hoarding blaring a slogan that included "OMG" and "LOL". It would seem text speak is now so familiar you can find it looming over our cityscapes and flogging us cars.

This is usually assumed to be a very bad thing and it doesn't take long to unearth worries associated with "textisms" especially when it comes to children and "hmwk". This is an example from a notorious essay handed in by a school pupil that began;

"My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we usd 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- kds FTF. ILNY, it's a gr8 plc."

Which according to The Telegraph translates as;

"My summer holidays were a complete waste of time. Before, we used to go to New York to see my brother, his girlfriend and their three screaming kids face to face. I love New York, it's a great place."

Cue much worry about the impact of texting on kids.

But is texting reducing the literacy of our children? Well on this blog science is always the answer and today it so happened I was driving back from interviewing one of the scientists who've been researching this area. Dr Bev Plester works at Coventry University where they have been looking a texting for around five years now.

The latest paper [168KB PDF] published in the British Academy Review (Issue 14) reports the results of a year long study conducted by Dr Plester, Dr Clare Wood and Samantha Bowyer. They measured the intelligence, literacy, spelling and general English abilities of a group of around 60 children. They also examined their text messages. Then at the end of the academic year they returned and repeated the tests.

And once they analysed the data they discovered a link between those who used text speak and their literacy skills. But not the one you might expect. More "textisms" didn't make things worse. If fact the more text speak used the better the level of literacy.

Now chatting with Dr Plester over coffee she made it very clear this doesn't mean there isn't a problem with literacy in our children or that young people can use text speak in the wrong context, like the essay above.

But as the paper concludes;

"if we are seeing a decline in literacy standards... it is in spite of text messaging, rather than because of it."

Children who text are writing and having fun with language and communication and that seems to be having a positive effect.


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