Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Seminar Lead – Erin Milne – We have not reached the end of civilization!

July 13th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Naomi Baron and Victoria Carrington articulate in each of their respective articles that “Standard English” is being destroyed due to the use of texting by adolescents in today’s society.  Carrington argues that “txting is clearly constructed in direct opposition to legitimate language, represented by the notion of Standard (or the Queen’s English)” (Carrington 168).  Text language, however, can better be seen as an alternative form of language and rather than perceiving this change as ‘the end of civilization’, (Carrington 161) might better be viewed as one form of literacy.


Carrington’s article begins with the discussion of a 13-year-old Scottish girl who submitted an essay to her teacher that was written entirely in ‘txt.’  The girl wrote an essay that happened to be written in ‘txt’ form.  Carrington further argues that due to the fact that the young girl was “unaware of the high stakes surrounding institutional literacy practices, she chose an inappropriate genre in which to respond to the class assignment” (Carrington 173).  In addition, Baron explains that “the shape of written language has always been as much a product of social attitudes and educational values as of technological developments” (Baron 31).  This means that the use of ‘txt’ language in a formal setting would likely be foreign for some adults because it is not something regularly seen within social realms.  Our society has not socially adjusted to the idea of using text language in formal settings and therefore is not yet prepared to accept this new form of language as a legitimate.


Written language has also largely been influenced by adolescents.  Baron states that “adolescents have long been a source of linguistic and behavioural novelty” (Baron 30).  Language has always been a part of adolescent small-group identity (Baron 30) and plays a significant role in the way that adults understand adolescents.  Text language acts as a snapshot into the lives of young students in our educational system.  If educators give students the opportunity to engage with text language in the classroom and let students know that this is in fact a legitimate form of literacy, students will be better able to shift and decode between a variety of print and visual forms.  Carrington argues that much of the meaning of contemporary text is embedded in the graphics, symbols, images and sounds that surround print” (Carrington 172).  Therefore, if educators can assist students in developing literacy skills in a variety of areas including ‘txt’, students will build the explicit skills necessary to engage with language that is continuously shifting.


So is ‘txt’ language really causing civilization to end?  In my opinion, not at all.  Knowledge of ‘txt’ language and other forms of computer-mediated forms of communication are simply empowering students and other members of society to participate and engage with others using a variety of literacy forms.

Erin Milne



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), 161CCC175.


Tags: Presentation · Seminar Prompts

2 responses so far ↓

  • elaineyhk // Jul 14th 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I agree that “txting” is not the end of civilization. I think it is important for teachers to recognize txting as a legitimate form of literacy and not simply hold “standard text” as the paragon of acceptable forms of writing. I also agree with the common theme running through both of the articles that teachers should teach students to differentiate between when it is appropriate to use informal and formal registers of writing.

  • kevinsolis // Jul 15th 2014 at 1:57 pm

    “Txting” is just another form of communication that comes from the time when we were limited to 180 characters in one message, another kind of English if you will. We have multiple forms of English. Nowadays, you won’t see many teenagers “txt” anymore because of how far mobile technology has come since the arrival of T9 texting for the cellphone. Things like autocorrect and swipe key allow mobile users to type in full sentences, much like how when we were taught in elementary school to type with all of our fingers and as we grow up we only end up using two or three; or similarly how we are taught to write in cursive in elementary school but for the most part we abandon its use later on in life. “txting” is not the end of civilization, moreso that it is simply a method of communication.

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