New Zealand students get OK to use text-speak in exams

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday November 8, 2006

Wellington- New Zealand high school students will be allowed to use text-speak - the second language teenagers have developed for cellphone messages - in exams, according to news reports Thursday. The move has divided students and educators amid concerns that it could damage the English language, The Press in Christchurch reported.

It said that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority was still encouraging students to use proper English in exam papers but would give credit if an answer written in text-speak "clearly shows the required understanding."

Deputy chief executive Bali Haque told the paper that in English examinations, where candidates were specifically required to demonstrate proper use of language, text abbreviations would be penalized.

Teachers' spokeswoman Debbie Te Whaiti said that the move reflected the situation in the classroom, where teachers were grappling every day with the use of text-speak.

One Christchurch school principal, Denis Pyatt, said that he would not encourage students to use text abbreviations in exams, but added, "I think text messaging is one of the most exciting things that has happened in a long time.

"It is another development in that wonderful thing we call the English language."

But another teacher, Stephen Rout, said, "Students need to be able to write and understand full English."

Wellington's Dominion Post gave the following examples of text speak in school papers, "We shal fite dem on d beaches" (Sir Winston Churchill) and "2b or nt 2b" (Shakespeare's Hamlet).

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency