Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

OMG srsly wrting dis way = hrd!- Seminar Lead on Computer Mediated Communication

July 13th, 2014 · 1 Comment

OMG srsly wrting dis way = hrd! By Justin Bolivar

In response to Baron and Carrington’s articles surrounding the idea that texting is destroying “the Queen’s English” both articles cite that shorthand communication between adolescents threatens the state of the English language. However, both articles speculate that shorthand could have a negative impact on English language, but fail to produce, at least in my opinion, a concrete example of how this is happening. When I first approached writing this post, I was going to write it in text-speak, however, to code the post into that language would have taken me much longer than if I were to write it “properly,” as per our sources.

In Carrington’s article “Txting: the end of civilization (again)?” she takes on the story of a student who wrote about their summer using shorthand language. Now, what we do not get to see in the article or in the news story she covers is if this student who used this language was consistently using it throughout her course work. For all we know, it could have been a joke that she was attempting to play on her teacher, or, she was bored of her summer vacation, and simply wanted to act out. The article ends rather anticlimactically when Carrington states that “I doubt very much that her actions signal the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it and suspect that ‘standards’ will survive for some time.” Therefore, we have parents, administrators, and teachers getting up in arms about textspeak in the classroom, however, I propose that bringing in the idea of textspeak can actually help in a classroom setting!

On practicum, the final assessment task, as mandated by IB for my grade 10’s was to write a letter using Shakespearian language. Now, Shakespearian language is hard enough for them to understand, but to write a letter seemed daunting. In addition, who writes letters anymore? Thus, what I set out to do is make the assignment more tangible for the class, and something that they could relate to. What I did is create an assignment where students would write text messages between the characters, so that they could practice Shakespeare speak in a safe environment, but also so that they could revisit some of the key plot lines of the play. I introduced the assignment as a fun assignment, and marked them rather liberally. My learning objective was to have them become more comfortable using a medium most of them are used to, so that I could help to build other skills for another assessment. I have attached the assignment below, as well as some student examples:


In preparation for the final assessment task of the unit, where you will write a letter to any character from the play or be yourself, but in Shakespearian language, “Shakespeare Text Message” will be your first step!

Individually, your task will be to write six text messages of appropriate length (three sent and three received) using Shakespearian language. These responses will be shared with the class for collaboration and feedback, so that you have some information for your final assessment.

Student example:

Mercutio: Romeo! Romeo! Hast thou hithered the tidings?

Romeo: Nay Mercutio I hast nought

Mercutio: Young Juliet hath a baby upon her bosom!!

Romeo: What wretched sirrah hath done this to my

Juliet?!?! I shall dispatch of his soul!!

Mercutio: Hahaha peace gentle Romeo, peace. Doth thou not see the date? ‘Tis Aprils Fooling!!

Romeo: I bite my thumb at thee

Mercutio. Plague on you! Plague on you a thousand times!!


Works Cited:


Carrington, V. (2005).Txting: the end of civilization (again)? Cambridge Journal of Education, 35(2), 161CCC175.


Tags: computer-mediated communication · multiliteracies · Social Media

1 response so far ↓

  • cmac26 // Jul 15th 2014 at 6:12 pm

    LOL, I completely agree with you, Justin. I also think that bringing SMS language into the class can help students in their learning. I thought that the story in the article about the girl who used SMS language to write an entire assignment was creative and demonstrated a level of understanding of the material that is impressive. Even though the student was not following instruction, she was demonstrating an ability to code-switch between two forms of languages—a very complex process and effective way of communicating. When it comes to learning languages, the ability to code-switch tends to represent a high level of fluency. When I was learning how to speak Danish, I often found myself switching from English into Danish and vice-versa in my writing. According to my Danish language teacher at UBC, the fact that I was code-switching between English and Danish was actually a sign of my fluency in the language. However, it seems that code-switching between English and SMS language does not get the same respect as with other languages. Why not? Students who can code-switch between English and SMS are clearly demonstrating the same skills and level of fluency. Students are still able to communicate their ideas effectively to one another, but for some reason, SMS is considered to be childish and thus an inferior form of language. Personally, I think that getting students to practice the complex process of code-switch in their writing would be one example of how students can benefit from using SMS language in the classroom.

    Another benefit of using SMS language in the classroom is the fact that students can effectively communicate to one another at an amazing speed using a tool they carry around in their pockets. Instead of telling students to leave their phones in their lockers or at home, teachers should be encouraging them to use their devices during in-class activities to communicate with each other about the material being studied. One of the reasons why I think that SMS language is seen as childish and therefore an inferior form of language is because it tends to occur on cellphones. However, I see the cellphone as a tool that now allows us to communicate at an incredible speed to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Writing tools in the past, like the typewriter and keyboard, were unable to communicate languages effectively at the same speed that SMS language is now exchanged using cellphones. I think that by incorporating cellphones and SMS language into the classroom our students will be able to communicate using a form that differs from traditional means of communication. Finally, by using text language in class, students can incorporate some of their youth culture into what they are learning at school, which provides them with another way to relate to the material.

    -Cody Macvey

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