xpstd @ frontline books
If the first part of my title piques your curiosity and the latter part leaves you in convulsions, chances are you're not (yet) au fait with txt spk. You might wonder if there is any need to bother developing any adeptness with a language that refuses vowels, apostrophes and spreads exclamation marks willy nilly (I mean, really!!!).
Well, I bet some teachers in New Zealand happily thought the same thing until the Qualifications Authority deemed txt speak a-ok in exams. Not only will students not be marked down for their lack of “academic” English*, but teachers are expected to understand text speak in order to mark the exams (rofl) . Now, I’ve had my fair-share of teachers who recycled lesson plans on yellowed cue-cards, enjoyed long monologues on the merits of commas, hyperventilated at the mere thought of confusion between “there” and “their,” (not to mention “they’re”) and extolled quotidian lauds upon the apostrophe. But, I have not enjoyed the marking of a teacher (aaf) who are dwn w 404s. Apparently, New Zealand secondary school teachers cannot mark down a student for using txt spk in an exam as long as the answer “clearly shows the required understanding.” Ha ha! Much more lho, lol, and even rofl. I would like to know how aforementioned teacher(s) might clearly understand the student’s use of txt spk. For a translation of this postcard, click here.
Will the New Zealand exam authority hold night classes in txt spk: txt spk 101, spk g%d 4 tchrs, and “how to mark and essay that’s not in English even though it’s about Virginia Woolf”? Will teachers be granted extra marking hours in order to decipher this Creole? Bali Haque, the chief of the New Zealand exam board says: “markers involved in accessing NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) exams are trained professionals, experienced in interpreting the variety of writing styles and language uses encountered during the marking process.”
Of course there are positives. Allowing this kind of short form takes account of the exam situation where speed is usually a necessity. Perhaps also text language is more inclusive, enabling some students to verbalise their ideas who might otherwise leave them in ephemerality (not so useful for an exam)? (You might think that comes under the remit of teaching – then you’ve never tried to teach at some of the schools I have..and yes, they’re in London). “In some ways, IM is an English teacher’s dream because it’s using writing for a real purpose, towards a real audience, and that’s something we always struggle with in a classroom.” Sure text speak is another development, evolution even, in language and sure the invention of the printing press solicited warnings (oh no, now the general populace will have access to information…eek eek). However, I think it would be a great loss if future generations do not realise that there are different languages for different situations. Txt spk is not the only way to go.
“New technologies have had a major influence on the way we communicate and use language today: punctuation and capital letters are being dropped in favour of emoticons, letter-number homophones and acronyms. But are email, instant messaging and mobile text messaging degrading the language? This question surfaces in debates among writers, language professionals and academics, as well as among parents and their children.”
rofl = Rolling on the floor laughing
aaf = As a friend
404s = Errors
lho = Laughing head off
lol = Lots of laughs
* I might be exaggerating slightly here. Apparently, teachers can mark down for text speak used in English literature/language exams.