Is “Text Speak” The Wave Of The Future?

“Text-speak” — the cell phone text message language beloved of teenagers and celebrities (I’m talking about you Paris Hilton)–is the talk of the town in Wellington, New Zealand. High school students there will now be able to use “text-speak” on national exams this year.

But not everyone is happy with the move. In fact, the decision to allow text speak (which for many teens is a second language of sorts) in the realm of education has divided students and educators who fear it could damage the English language.

For all of you non-texters–text-speak uses abbreviated words and phrases such as “txt” for “text”, “lol” for “laughing out loud” or “lots of love,” and “CU” for “see you.”

In a statement released to news reporters, New Zealand’s Qualifications Authority said that it still strongly discourages students from using anything other than full English, but that credit will be given if the answer “clearly shows the required understanding,” even if it contains text-speak.

The authority’s hope is that “students aim to make their answers as clear as possible.” However, the rule does not carry over to all subjects, namely English. New Zealand testing officials say students using text abbreviations on an English exam would be penalized.

The president of the region’s Post Primary Teachers’ Association said the authority’s move reflects the sad state of affairs in the classroom situation. Teachers say they are concerned that if text slang is acceptable in everyday written language in classrooms, then it will soon become an acceptable way to speak as well.

If I were a parent of a Wellington high school student I would be reluctant to allow my child to use text speak on tests. Really, how much time is saved by abbreviating words such as “see you” or “text?” Where do you stand? Do you agree with the authority’s decision?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.