Impact of text message language on writing skills of secondary school students

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Mary Oluga

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Fredrick Japhet Mtenzi


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Interactive media such as text messaging has become trendy among the youths. This technology employs a language that deviates from the rules of Standard English in terms of, punctuation and orthography. This has resulted into fear and apprehension from educators, parents and the general public that the students’ written language is at risk of being corrupted at the altar of texting. In order to establish whether text messaging has resulted in paradigm shift in the conventional uses of language in secondary school, this paper explores the impact of the practice on writing skills of students of Wibro (pseudonym) Secondary School in Homa Bay County, Kenya. Employing a qualitative approach and case study research design, the study used semi structured interview, non-participant observation and document analysis to gather data from twenty secondary school learners and three teachers of English language. The findings indicate that secondary school students are experienced texters who employ diverse texting conventions to fashion their texts. The students mainly use SMS to connect with friends and relatives. The affordability of text messaging makes it a medium of choice for the students. Despite believing that texting has negative impact on writing skills, the learners’ continue to use the service. Surprisingly, analysis of students written essays revealed only a few instances of SMS convention. Many students adhered to the convention of Standard English when writing for academic purposes, thus, this study shows that though there are instances of SMS language in students essays, the number is not as large as the mainstream media would want us to believe. Language and language use is both dynamic and context specific.

Keywords: Short Message Service, Texting conventions, Impact, Writing skills,

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