WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – New Zealand’s high school students will be able to use “text-speak” – the mobile phone text message language beloved of teenagers – in national exams this year, officials said Friday.
Text-speak, a second language for thousands of teens, uses abbreviated words and phrases such as “txt” for “text”, “lol” for “laughing out loud” or “lots of love,” and “CU” for “see you.” The move has already divided students and educators who fear it could damage the English language.
New Zealand’s Qualifications Authority said that it still strongly discourages students from using anything other than full English, but that credit will be given if the answer “clearly shows the required understanding,” even if it contains text-speak.
The authority’s deputy chief executive for qualifications, Bali Haque, said students should aim to make their answers as clear as possible.
Confident that those grading papers would understand answers written in text-speak, Haque stressed that in some exams, including English – where good language use is specifically required – text abbreviations would be penalized.
Post Primary Teachers’ Association President Debbie Te Whaiti said the authority’s move reflects the classroom situation.
“Individual teachers are grappling with it (texting) every day,” she said
Teachers would have concerns if text slang became acceptable in everyday written language in classrooms, she said.
Critics said the National Certificate of Educational Achievement or NCEA, the main qualification for high school students, would be degraded by the authority allowing text speak use in exams.
The minor United Future Party said in a statement: “Untd Futr is cncernd bout da xeptnce of txt spk 2 b allwd in ritn xams 4 NCEA (United Future is concerned about the acceptance of text speak to be allowed in written exams for NCEA).”
“Skoolz r ther 2 educ8 + raze litracy 2 certn standrds (Schools are there to educate and raise literacy to certain standards),” the statement quoted United Future legislator Judy Turner as saying. “NCEA shudnt let da standrd b decidd by informl pop cultr of da time.”
High School principal Denis Pyatt said he wouldn’t encourage students to use text abbreviations in exams – but he was excited by the language development.
“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,” he said.
Internet blogger Phil Stevens was not amused by the announcement. “nzqa(New Zealand Qualifications Authority): u mst b joking,” Stevens wrote. “or r u smoking sumthg?”