The advent of SMS technology was a means to enhance effective and efficient communication. Unfortunately, this has not been the case because SMS have been associated with some issues that tend to affect English proficiency.
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Individuals tend to use a language that they easily understand, which in most cases is not Englsih. Text messages are the main mode of communication used by young adults and students compared to conversations, mainly due to convenience. This paper aims to discuss some issues associated with SMS technology and how these issues affect literacy.
SMS technology is more popular among the young people because of the friendly rates associated with it. In addition, it is convenient because it can be as easy as sending a symbol (: [email protected] to mean angry). This technology extends to some social networking media like Facebook and Twitter.
On these social sites, people will use a very short form of sentences that only make use of sound. These sentences lack a structure, they seem like a combination of words without any particular order and the most surprising thing is that the receiver understands. One instance is “@ sam big upx n kip kul” mainly used in social sites like Facebook. Unless one has a very good understanding of this language used in SMS, one can really shun from exchanging information using such language.
If one means to say, “Where will you be going?” the short-form of this is “wea 2?” This kind of texting distorts one’s grammar and spelling because the emphasis is not on grammar proficiency and correct spelling. In fact, this kind of language does not exist hence, it adversely affects students’ grammar and spelling.
The problem becomes serious when student are not able to control how they communicate with their friends through SMS and social sites. Consequently, they find themselves using this kind of writing in their formal writings. Alternatively, it becomes difficult to correctly construct a sentence in English. This is something that I have actually had to endure: failure to balance my informal communication and formal one.
The excessive use of SMS becomes worse to the extent of affecting students’ speaking skills. The use of SMS behind the screens of the cell phones and computers become a shield against engaging in conversations and this affects one’s ability to verbally communicate with others. Students and young adults are more comfortable chatting via SMS but they forget that this affects their ability to write and speak effectively in English.
Some will mix different kinds of languages, making comprehension of English as a language, by way of example, worse. “utacom” meaning “Will you come?” is a mixture of Swahili and English. Therefore, individuals using such a mixture of language have a hard time trying to effectively communicate in one language, be it Swahili or English.
It is important to engage in meaningful and grammatically sound SMS. This is meant to enhance communication skills. Therefore, there is need to change the style of SMS.