Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Txt v.s. Text

July 12th, 2014 · 1 Comment

English is “under attack”! Standardized English is the legitimate text to use. The widespread use of txt language is a social disease; it leads to addiction and lowers individual’s ability to shift between text types. Txt is a spoiled version of English.

These concerns center the question raised by both of the articles: does the use of txt or instant messaging language degrade English?

When I read the articles, I wondered: what is considered as “correct” English? I believe the definition changes with the environment as “language has always been a product of social attitudes” (Baron, 2005). For example, there are variations of English all over the world, such as Chinglish in China, Singlish in Singapore, and Konglish in Korea; these are socially acceptable language in their respective countries. In those societies, we cannot say what the majority is speaking is incorrect. Applying the same concept, txting, then, is a product of the txting community. Can we truly state that the language is wrong in their community?

Furthermore, educators should not belittle txt language as it is also an evidence of adolescents’ self-identity and development (Carrington, 2005); it is a way of communication among people of the same generation. In fact, in order to switch between codes, people have to be intellectually able as txting requires explicit skills, social practices, and knowledge.

Moreover, educators need not to worry that txt will degrade English. As language reflects the current society, unless there is a dramatic change in educators, parents, and schools’ views, it is unlikely to affect standardized English. Eventually, adolescents will feel the need to be conformed in the society that uses “proper” English and learn “shed their linguistic ways” (Carrington, 2005).

Finally, let’s take a poll:
Have/Do you use(d) “lol” (or other shorthand/acronyms) when you text, use Facebook or other social network systems?

If I may make a bold assumption, most of us would have used txt language at some point in our lives and most likely still do. Yet, we are all able to attain a Bachelor’s degree and pursue a career in education.

As stated by Carrington, the “key to being literate is to have grasp of the most valued and useful genres and be able to shift between them as required by context.” In my opinion, the issues is not on the use of txt language; unless we ban the use of technology, we cannot avoid the txt language that entails it. The focus is on how we can approach the use (or misuse) of txt in class. Rather than condemning txting, why not introduce proper contexts to use different languages? If we avoid txt language altogether, are we not missing opportunities to connect and teach students? How are we different from teachers who simply say “I hate technology just because”?

1) How can we, as teachers, help students differentiate between txt and text?
2) Is it up to the teachers to explicitly teach the students the difference?
3) Are there ways that teachers can use txt language and technology associated to our advantage?


-Jenny K.



Baron, N.S. (2005). Instant messaging and the future of language. Communications of the ACM, 46(7), 30-31.

Carrington, V. (2005). Txting: the end of civilization (again)? Cambridge Journal of Education, 35(2), 161-175.

Tags: computer-mediated communication · Presentation

1 response so far ↓

  • sladea // Jul 18th 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Hi, Jenny,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. The organization of it was quite fluid and started with the broad concept of language and how we determine the validity of a language. Like you said, how can one even determine if a language is valid, especially if we are not a user of that language? I think that your comparison of text to mixed English language was an extremely effective analogy. Spanglish and Franglish are other versions of mixed languages that I know are spoken at least here in North and South America. I am curious to know, though, if these languages are used in written text. I know in some places in China, they have to use English words for some things, as they know no other word for them.

    I also like how you have discussed txting as a community; this reminds me of the jargon I use when I play video games such as World of Warcraft in which we use acronyms or computer codes to connote or denote certain things. For example, if I wanted to form a group for a particular raiding activity, I would type /c lfg dm. that means /c (this commands my chat function to send out a broad message to others on the server) “looking for a group to do Deadmines.” No one online takes a second look at this, but rather responds with a casual “ok, I’ll go” or “no thanks”.

    I strongly agree that languages are constantly in flux, and txting, like game speech, is just as valid as any other language. The problem is knowing when it is appropriate to use each language. Just like you wouldn’t travel to France and try to speak to someone in English, you wouldn’t write a formal English class essay in txt. Common, standard, English is needed for communication, too, so I feel like worrying about txting is absurd. Just be sure to be explicit with your students about when it is appropriate to use each register.


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