Texting is Not a Bane of ELT: A Reflection

  • Tesfamichael Getu Lecturer in the College of Social Sciences and Languages at Mekelle University


Teaching writing in an undergraduate class at Mekelle University, I once instructed students to write a well-developed paragraph, and I came across a paragraph written with all kinds of unusual of abbreviations, punctuation, capitalization and spelling. Looking at the paragraph, at first, I was a bit irritated, but I decided to carry on reading. The incident, however, caused me to ponder and marked the inception of my concern about the effects of texting on students’ writing skill. Since then, I have been sharing ideas with my colleagues who have had similar experiences and expressed their beliefs that texting is negatively affecting students’ language learning in general and writing skills in particular. I have also heard some parents expressing worries that their children's writing skill has been decimated by text messaging. However, is texting really a bane or a boon to ELT? I began looking into this matter very closely (at least at a theoretical level) for I wanted to know whether it is really harming or supporting the development of students’ writing skill. Hence, this paper is a reflection on this endeavour.Recently, Ethiopian students have been immersing themselves in text messaging as they acquire and use mobile phones and become exposed to the Internet. Text messaging is the practice whereby users of mobile and other electronic devices exchange brief written messages via networks. The act of sending a text message is termed “texting”, and the sender is also called a “texter” (Ross, 2004). Texting involves the use of pictograms and logograms in addition to words. Words might be either shortened through the use of symbols or symbols whose names sound like a syllable of the word are used (Ross, 2004). Put simply, a text may consist of words or an alphanumeric combination. For example, texting “you” could be represented as “u”; “to be” as “2b”; and “laughing out loud” as “lol”. So with all these kinds of unusual features what would be the impact of texting on students’ writing skill?


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