Coventry University finds that texting actually improves Language Skills

Feb 25th, 2009 | By | Category: Links, Science, Technology

Bev Plester and Clare Wood, Senior Lecturers in Psychology have conducted a study on text messaging for 11 year olds that was published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

The research included the study of spelling and punctuation on regular users of text messaging.  No difference was found in their success and achievement levels of non-texting children of the same age and academic level.

Bev commented, to the British Psychological Society, “There is no evidence to link texting to a lower ability of standard English.  Children using textisms such as, “GR8” were found to be better spellers and writers”.

The study involved 35 children to complete a questionnaire about their mobile phone use.  Other tasks involved translating English and text language and completing tasks on writing, reading and spelling abilities.

This can also be linked to a 2006 study by the same researchers which found that contrary to popular belief, the use of text message abbreviations is linked positively with literacy achievements, according to work carried out by researchers at Coventry University.

Mrs Beverly Plester and Dr Clare Wood from Coventry University presented the findings of their research (which they conducted with eleven-year old children) at the British Psychological Society’s Developmental Section Annual Conference at the Royal Holloway, University of London.

The study explored how the use of text abbreviations might be related to the skills children need in reading and writing. This was in response to concern raised by parents and teachers about whether text messaging could damage a child’s ability to use standard English.

The children were quizzed about their use of mobile phones and asked to translate messages between standard English and text language, as well as complete tasks to reveal their English writing, reading and spelling abilities.

It was discovered that children use their mobile phones more for sending text messages than for talking. Unsurprisingly, the majority of texts were sent to friends.

Most text abbreviations were phonetically based, such as ‘wot’ for ‘what’ and combination texts, such as ‘C U L8r. Many children also used a form of ‘youth code’ which is a casual form of language such as ‘dat fing’, ‘gonna’ or ‘wanna’.

Surprisingly, the children who were better at spelling and writing used the most ‘textisms’.

Mrs Plester said:

“So far, our research has suggested that there is no evidence to link a poor ability in standard English to those children who send text messages. In fact, the children who were the best at using ‘textisms’ were also found to be the better spellers and writers.”

“We are interested in discovering whether texting could be used positively to increase phonetic awareness in less able children, and perhaps increase their language skills, in a fun yet educational way.”

It is hoped further research work can be undertaken with a wider cross-section of schools in Coventry and Warwickshire if funding for the research can be identified.

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