Phonological Awareness and Textisms Discussed at the Ultimate Spelling Blog, Announces eReflect

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Can texting online and in smartphones improve people’s phonological awareness, and by extension their language skills? Is it right to assume that texting leads to language’s degradation and simplification, or is simply another step in the evolution of the English language?

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Learning how to spell is a complex cognitive skill where a child needs to bring together semantic, phonological, and orthographic knowledge of words...

eReflect, developer of Ultimate Spelling™ software, recently led a discussion on the Ultimate Spelling™ official blog on how textisms reveal a deeper phonological awareness on the user's part. Contrary to popular opinion, texting is not merely a lazy, shorthand way of communication. In a post titled, “Texting as a Way of Improving Phonological Skill,” eReflect contends that texting can be the means through which users of texting services and apps improve their phonological awareness of language and spelling.

The argument is this: when people text words like “2nite” in the place of “tonight,” this presupposes a certain phonological knowledge of the words themselves. Textisms are not randomly created; instead, they are grounded on phonological rules and principles. That’s also the reason why even people new to textisms can fairly easily recognize the words being texted.

Textisms can be entertaining as well as efficient. Spelling is fun and textisms are one way people can engage with language just for the fun of it. Language should be considered as tool people can use to change communication according to their circumstances, notes eReflect, and in the case of texting, the new rules of orthography mean that people can be even more creative. It’s no coincidence that many textisms have been the result of witty ideas and language manipulations, mostly in the form of puns.

eReflect, developer of Ultimate Spelling™ software, believes that texting doesn’t cause language to degrade, nor does it make people ignorant and bad language users. Texting and other forms of shorthand are a manifestation of how users of the English language can competently manipulate the language to achieve their communication goals. As a matter of fact, a University of Coventry study has looked into how texting affects children’s language skills, and to the surprise of many people the study found that texting can actually improve children’s reading and writing skills rather than damaging them.

Learning how to spell is a complex cognitive skill where a child needs to bring together semantic, phonological, and orthographic knowledge of words in order for spelling to be completely learned and understood, and texting has all of those linguistic aspects. The mechanisms behind texting are not a sign of a lazy attitude, but rather one that seeks ways to communicate more effectively. At its more basic level, the ability to create meaningful textisms and shorthand proves that the user has advanced and complex linguistic skills.


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