New Zealand students able to use txt language in exams

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has announced that a shorter version of English known as txt language will be acceptable in the external end of year exams. Txt language is where words are shortened for easier mobile phone usage, e.g. txt is for text, lol is for laugh out loud, brb is for be right back, etc.

Txt language has been approved if the marker can see that the paper "clearly shows the required understanding", however the NZQA still advises not to use it. Bali Haque, deputy chief executive of NZQA, said: "Students should aim to make their answers as clear as possible. Markers involved in assessing NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) exams are trained professionals, experienced in interpreting the variety of writing styles and language uses encountered during the marking process," Mr Haque is confident that marker will understand txt language.

Educators and students alike are divided saying that it will be easier and others saying it could damage the English language.

Mr Haque said that if the marking schedule said that good language use is needed then txt language will be penalised.

Debbie Te Whaiti, president of the Post-Primary Teachers' Association, said: "The authority's new stance reflected the situation in the classroom. Individual teachers are grappling with [txting] every day. However, teachers would have concerns if text slang became an acceptable everyday written language in the classroom."

Year 11 student at Avonside Girls High School, Cathy Adank, said: "Most students would be surprised to hear text language was acceptable in some exams. That's great. You'll just be able to get your ideas out quicker. It's so much faster; you can get through the exam faster." But her close friend, Harriet Prebble, disagreed, "I think it's a terrible idea. When you start progressing in the world, people judge you on the written language, and spelling things incorrectly seems sloppy and lazy and gives a bad impression." However both girls did agree that the use of txt language damages the overall spelling of the users.

Denis Pyatt, principal of Papanui High School, said: "While I would not encourage students to use text abbreviations in exams, I am excited by the language developments. 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. Society has to adapt to change and I think ultimately text messaging could help resolve one of the strangest parts of English, which is its spelling, though I think it will be some time before text spelling is formally adopted."

Lincoln High School NZQA officer, Stephen Rout, said: "[I] will not be recommending text speak to his students. I would advise students to use proper English rather than text abbreviations. Students need to be able to write and understand full English and I would encourage our students to do that."

Lynda Harris, chief executive of the Write Group who help people develop their English skills, said that her staff are worried "about students being allowed to write in text abbreviations."

This decision comes over a week later when the Scottish Qualifications Authority also allowed txt language.