Chat or IM Speak is good for you

Chat or IM Speak is good for you

mobile_phoneOne of the many debates in recent times with the emergence of Chat Speak amongst youth, due to the increase volumes of Instant Messenger (IM) users, have been the effect it has on the literacy of a young person. With IMs like MXit, The Grid, Mig33 etc. being increasingly popular in South African youth culture (estimated 18 million combined users) it is with interest that the impact of this on literacy has to be addressed. Many institutions are against the use of mobile chat language / chat speak due to the negative impact it has on learner’s writing abilities. It is no surprise that even adults would send an email (to clients, formal) using the Chat speak instead of using proper language.

However, a recent study by a group of third year psychology students at University of Alberta has shown that of a group of 40 students surveyed between the ages of 12 and 17, in them taking a standardised spelling test that it did not effect their performance as such based on textesing. Those who have been well-versed in proper spelling proved to be unaffected by using the chat speak slang. For many of them they would come up with new words in various contexts that would actually give their brains a “little workout”.

So with more of South African youth engaging in text speak, chat langauge, MXit language or whatever you want to call it, perhaps we might have a generation who could use this creative way of communicating as a means to exercise their brains.

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One Reply to “Chat or IM Speak is good for you”

  1. Thanks for this article Marlon. I was having a twitter debate (tweetbate?) about this very topic with someone yesterday. I agree that it can be stimulating to the brain, much like doing a crossword or sudoku would. I am glad that you mentioned that the students using this language are already well-versed in proper spelling.

    A second grade teacher, however, was not so happy about her students using this language because they have problems with basic spelling. The fear is that much younger learners adopt this language as correct grammar and spelling and may cause learning or communication abilities later on.

    Having said that, the person I was tweeting with made a valid point in that it may be a useful tool to help those with learning disabilities such as dyslexics as it can be learnt and taught easier!

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