Texting, Tweeting and Facebooking Teens Are Stupid Again!

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Two weeks after a study partly funded by the British Academy concluded phone texting leads to more literate youths, the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, claims messaging via cellphones is contributing to a generation of college students who can't write.

Their evidence: the rising failure rate of students who cannot pass an exam testing their English language skills that is required for entry into the university.

"Little or no grammar teaching, cellphone texting, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, all are being blamed for an increasingly unacceptable number of post-secondary students who can't write properly," the Canadian Press reports today (via the Waterlook Record).

"Thirty percent of students who are admitted are not able to pass at a minimum level," Ann Barrett, managing director of the English language proficiency exam at UW, tells the Canadian Press. "We would certainly like it to be a lot lower."

The failure rate has risen five percent in the past few years, according to the university, which questions whether public high schools are properly preparing the college-bound.

Over at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, administrators are seeing emoticons, happy faces, sad faces and "cuz" turning up in written work.

After comments from experts blaming social networking for poor writing skills among college students, a University of Toronto writing-support coordinator countered that Spellcheck has reduced spelling errors on today's written submissions.

British researchers at the University of Coventry had expressed surprise over the counter-intuitive link between texting and literacy. They discovered text language uses word play and requires an awareness of how sounds relate to written English, helping pupils who regularly text develop skills in the more formal use of English.
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