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DaVinci Coders
December 11th, 2006 at 9:34 pm

Texting Blamed for Bad English

Education officials, from high school to college, are wondering if similar incidents are becoming too frequent. While technology has helped with student learning, they are concerned that the text messaging vernacular is harming the education system.

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Gabby Garcia’s approach to drafting essays is simple: write as if you are talking to a friend.

While it makes the sometimes arduous process easier, the 16-year-old Nogales High School student tends to take her own advice a little too far.

"I’ll end a sentence with an `LOL,"’ Garcia said.

For those unfamiliar with text message lingo, "LOL" is shorthand for laugh out loud.

Education officials, from high school to college, are wondering if similar incidents are becoming too frequent. While technology has helped with student learning, they are concerned that the text messaging vernacular is harming the education system.

Text messaging is becoming the preferred mode of communication for teens and adults, said Joe Farren, director of public affairs for CTIA-the Wireless Association, a trade group for the wireless industry.

The group tracks the number of text messages sent each month and reported more than 12 billion text messages were sent in June – up from 1 billion messages in June 2003.

Ray McCormick, professor of communication studies at Azusa Pacific University, said the age of computers is a major culprit in affecting the ability of college students to write English.

"There’s been a significant drop in writing and researching skills," he said.

Modern messages – instant messages on AOL or posting a reply to a Web blog – are meant to be a short, skeleton of an idea, said McCormick, a 22-year professor.

In these instances, students aren’t developing a clear idea. The concern is that this habit is carrying over into formal writing.

More students are developing their papers as if they are conversing with friends.

"They use the phrase `she goes’ in order to communicate `she said,"’ said Ashley Haines, assistant director of the Tutoring Club in Glendora.

Remedial writing courses are commonplace at local universities, prompting some to wonder if texting is a factor.

Garcia, who sends up to 800 text messages a day, edits her essays now. She disagrees that texting has hindering her formal writing skills.

Students continue to use text message shorthand in their formal daily communication, which spills over into their writing assignments, said Fred Yaffe, University of La Verne’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Yaffe recalled hearing from faculty that papers were turned in with the number four not spelled out and that words that ended in "-ate" were written with the number eight instead.

But college faculty, Yaffe admitted, are often guilty of the same offenses. The message board for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Web site are riddled with grammatical and spelling errors.

Text messaging isn’t a passing fad, as statistics show. Teaching formal writing structure will help improve students’ ability in crafting essays.

"Learning to write formal English isn’t an innate skill," Yaffe said. "You have to be taught."

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