August, 2007

Aug 07

Could Text Messaging Be the Cure for Illiteracy?

This afternoon I went for my meeting with my literacy student. The hour I spend volunteering every week is always gratifying, charges me up and gives me so much to think about. While going through our usual routine of comprehension quizzes and worksheets reviewing important basic skills, he started to ask me about the word “our”.

“This is not what I had been expecting,” he announced. “I was expecting ‘R’.” That is what I have seen when texting my friends. This led to a conversation about the differences between “our”, “are” and the “R” which is used in text messaging.

At first I was horrified. My literacy student’s dyslexia had discouraged him from trying to read and write for over 25 years of his life. Imagine him now texting and using “r” instead of “our” and “are”. But, then again, here he was, inseparable from his cell phone, trying his best to message his friends. Before parting ways, we decided to make a short list of messages (using conventional spelling) that he could refer to when texting on his cell phone.

What an interesting phenomena! According to my Google research, text messaging has become the dominant mode of written communication for many young people. As such, it is starting to be adapted by many progressive educators as a learning tool. Apparently students, who would never write at all before, can’t be stopped now!

Next week, I plan to have my student teach me how to text message! I’ll keep you posted.