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Short message service (SMS) language and written language skills: educators’ perspectives

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Abstract:

SMS language is English language slang, used as a means of mobile phone text messaging. This practice may impact on the written language skills of learners at school. The main aim of this study was to determine the perspectives of Grade 8 and 9 English (as Home Language) educators in Gauteng regarding the possible influence of SMS language on certain aspects of learners’ written language skills. If an influence was perceived by the educators, their perceptions regarding the degree and nature of the influence were also explored. A quantitative research design, utilising a questionnaire, was employed. The sample of participants comprised 22 educators employed at independent secondary schools within Gauteng, South Africa. The results indicated that the majority of educators viewed SMS language as having a negative influence on the written language skills of Grade 8 and 9 learners. The influence was perceived as occurring in the learners’ spelling, punctuation, and sentence length. A further finding was that the majority of educators address the negative influences of SMS language when encountered in written tasks.

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