Can texting improve spelling and grammar?
Children who use unorthodox spelling and grammar while texting—such as using abbreviations and incomplete sentences—may not affect their ability to learn the proper rules of English in the long run, according to a new study.
Scientists at Coventry University and the University of Tasmania recruited more than 160 children between ages eight and 16. The children were asked to take a range of formal spelling, grammar and cognitive tests and were also asked to copy out all of their text messages over a two-day period. The researchers then looked at how many incidences and types of spelling and grammar “violations” the children used and compared them with the children’s results from the formal tests. After 12 months, the researchers repeated the process.
The study’s findings, published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, showed that the most creative texters were among the best spellers. The children who used word reduction, ungrammatical word forms and unconventional spelling fared better on spelling tests 12 months later. Researchers said that the study’s results could be explained by the fact that abbreviations used in text messages are typically phonetically based, by which children may practice their understanding of letters and corresponding sounds.
The study did not conclude that using unorthodox language in text messages directly improves spelling and grammar; rather, the findings suggested that communicating on digital devices may not hinder children from learning conventional rules of formal grammar.