Grammar and Spelling Not Affected by Text Speak Claim English Learners

63% of English learners do not believe that using text speak is damaging their grammar or spelling despite some using it while writing essays and exams, according to a new study.

Research by Kaplan International Colleges, a leading provider of English courses for teenagers, revealed that 63% of surveyed English learners thought that their English grammar or spelling was no worse due to using text speak such as LOL and YOLO.

This claim came despite 5% of those surveyed stating that they use text speak when writing essays and 3% asserting that they use it during exams.

The survey also discovered that 71% use text speak when texting on phones, 64% use it online and 14% actually use it while speaking out loud.

Anna Robinson, Kaplan’s Junior Operations Manager for the UK & Ireland, said: “While we would never recommend using text speak in formal written work, students on our junior English courses are proficient in the latest mobile devices so it is natural that they use it in everyday life.

“Technology is a really useful aid to language learning which is why Kaplan has launched K+ for Teens. K+ for Teens is a range of materials including integrated books, apps, games and online platforms all unique to our centers. The introduction of these technologies has transformed the way that our teenage students learn English.”

A recent study of primary and secondary school children by researchers at Coventry University found no evidence of any detrimental relationships between use of texting slang and children’s conventional literacy abilities.

Lead author Dr Clare Wood, Professor of Psychology in Education at Coventry University, said that her empirical research supported the results of Kaplan’s survey into the psychology of English learners.

She said: “Our own work examined children who used mobile phones and assessed them over the course of an academic year in one study, and over just 10 weeks in another.

“We found that not only was there no evidence of a negative association between literacy skills and the tendency to use texting slang or abbreviations when using SMS, in fact it seemed to be adding value to the children’s conventional spelling abilities, because of the highly phonetic nature of the text abbreviations which are most commonly used.

“They seem to enable children to rehearse their understanding of how speech sounds map onto printed characters in a way that benefits their normal literacy development.”

Kaplan surveyed more than 150 English learners from 44 countries to discover how they used text speak in everyday life. The results of the survey have been published in Kaplan’s “English for Teenagers” infographic.

Other survey results include:

  • LOL and THX were the most used text speak acronyms by English learners.
  • 66% use LOL and THX
  • 63% use OMG
  • 26% use 2MORO
  • 21% use GR8
  • 12% use YOLO
  • 77% use text speak because: “It is faster than writing full words.”
  • 15% use text speak because: “Everybody else does it.”
  • 3% use text speak because: “My parents cannot read it.”

Kaplan surveyed 178 English learners from: Hungary, Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Turkey, Colombia, Georgia, Estonia, Spain, Serbia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Austria, Bosnia, Vietnam, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Holland, Syria, Mexico, Somalia, Ecuador, Sudan, Venezuela, Philippines, Burundi, Mongolia, Libya, Thailand, Algeria, Senegal, Egypt, Iran, France, Haiti, Pakistan, Iraq, Romania, Slovakia, Armenia, Morocco, Russia, Bolivia and Greece.

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