Twitter and text are not GR8 for English skills, warns head

The Times is reporting warnings from a head that eliminating “text speak” and its impact on children’s spelling and grammar is among the greatest challenges facing teachers…

Abbreviations and slang used in text messages and on Twitter are “eroding hard-learnt skills”, and pupils are growing up with a more limited vocabulary because they spend less time reading books, said Caroline Jordan, head of Headington School for girls in Oxford.

She criticised government plans for a core mathematics qualification for all sixth-formers from September next year. Instead, she said, there should be a drive to stop the damaging effect of instant messaging on written English work.

Mrs Jordan, whose boarding school charges fees of about £30,000 a year, writes on her blog: “If we are going to make all students carry on with one subject at sixth form, why not English? Our English skills are constantly on display, often making the difference between landing a job and having a misspelt application filed in the bin…”

Speaking to The Times, Mrs Jordan said that fewer people had a good command of the English language and she feared that excessive use of social media meant teenagers were no longer expanding their vocabulary by reading fiction for pleasure…

“Text speak is having an inevitable impact on this generation and they need to realise when it’s appropriate to write the correct response to a question. If youngsters are not reading in the same way, and if they are spending a lot of time using social media, I wonder how much new vocabulary they are exposed to.”

The impact of text message and e-mail slang on school work has divided opinion. Some researchers say there is no evidence of a decline, while other experts — and many teachers — disagree…

More at: Twitter and text are not GR8 for English skills, warns head (subscription required)

Do you share Caroline Jordan’s concerns or are you more relaxed about the impact of text speak on younger people? Do you try to stop them using it in their work and teach them when it is or is not appropriate? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. punctuationshow

    SchoolsImprove a grasp of grammar’s required to appreciate what can be left out and still be understood. Embrace twitter; it’s here to stay

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