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Is "texting" even English? Should you teach it?

2020/06/05

The increasing role of technology in the classroom and our daily lives forces us to reconsider what forms of English are appropriate to teach ESL students. In the same way that English teachers wouldn't teach outdated English words, doesn't it make sense that we ought to teach the latest trends as well? 


So how about texting? Is it even English? Some argue that texting is the bane of literacy, and a detriment to the written word. However, some language experts believe texting is more like a new way of talking, not writing.


"Texting is more like speaking than writing."


When you look at it that way, it's a little easier to overlook the faux pas commonly associated with texting, such as the lack of capitalization, proper spelling, or punctuation. All of these are unnecessary when we speak with each other.


Texting seems to be something new altogether. Certainly, the written word has been used with back-and-forth communication for centuries, but not at the level of rapidity and interactivity that we see today. "Texters" are developing new rules and conventions to dictate what is appropriate for this new hybrid of written and spoken language.


For example, LOL has evolved to be more of a greeting or social grace than a literal admission of 'laughing out loud'. LOL is used to create a basic empathy between texters, often like a smile would do when two people are speaking together to ease social tension - to convey an attitude. Instead of having a literal meaning, it does something.


"It's real world use of English."


It doesn't look like texting will be going away anytime soon either. If anything it has been evolving and deepening with the emergence of emoji and a comment box at the end of every webpage.


As today's students are expected to be "digital natives", it could be that texting would be an appropriate English lesson subject for appealing to students 'real-world' English education.


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