SMS spelling ‘makes your child look stupid’

2011-10-24 00:00

SPELLING and grammar are key elements for matric pupils to remember as they write English paper 1 today. However, the use of text or SMS language as a communication tool continues to have a negative effect on pupils written work.

Pan South African Language Board chairperson Professor Sihawukele Ngubane said pupils should consider the difference between text and academic writing.

“My view is that most pupils get so accustomed to slang that it affects their academic writing. SMS language is shorter and the youth will be looking at saving money and characters.

“However, when it comes to writing English content and grammar are more important.

“This problem is hard to resolve because they can not distinguish between the two,” explained Ngubane.

Maritzburg College English teacher Christian Pera said that pupils seldom use SMS language in their work, but poor spelling is the real problem.

KwaZulu-Natal educationist Mike Hart, the co-ordinator of Pietermaritzburg’s literacy programme Reading said declining literacy is the real stumbling block for the county’s education system.

“If pupils use SMS language in their academic writing it is because they have not been taught the difference about what is appropriate in different contexts.

“They have not been taught the appropriate language resources to read a variety of different genres in different subject areas.

“Our teaching methods should be based on a good understanding of the reading process and the development of an understanding that different genres have different structures, sentence and language patterns.

“Without this knowledge learners will not be able to understand the texts they come across in the curriculum,” said Hart.

Dr Pieter E. Streichern, managing director of wireless application service provider and author of the article Is SMSing making your child stupid? said teachers need to do more to curb this tendency.

“I do not think that text language is making them stupid, but it makes them look stupid. Some use SMS language when they apply for jobs but this is a big social issue. Pupils have a problem with style shifting, they are capable of doing it and teachers really need to enforce this process,” explained Streichern.

• thandiwe.jumo

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