New Zealand to Allow Text-Speak in Exams

Posted on November 11, 2006

The Associated Press is reporting that New Zealand is going to high school students to use text-speaking or texting acronyms in national exams. The move has been extremely controversial.

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.

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 Friday 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.

Critics have argued that allowing abbreviations used in text messaging would degrade the quality of the exams.
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.

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?"

Phil Stevens is right. This seems like a crazy move by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. It would also create all sorts of problems for the people grading the tests as they tried to figure out exactly what each acronym meant. NetLingo and Lingo2Word might help them.

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