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SMS- The New Global Language
The advent of technology has given birth to a new language that is beyond the boundaries of region and culture. This is the language of sms that is understood globally.
Mankind has communicated in different ways down the ages. From smoke signals to drawings on cave walls and stone formations, the process moved to the written and spoken words in different languages sent through post, bird carriers, horseback riders or runners; then via gadgets like radio, telephone, telegraph and onto computers, emails and finally cell phones and SMS methods. The last mode has taken over the lives of the young and old alike, turning a cell phone into an appendage that cannot be left behind.

New age learning
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the children of the 21st century in England need new literacy skills if they have to handle the latest technology. The report says that the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) which over-seers the British schools curriculum, felt while books, were not outdated, students need to learn new literacy skills and so had piloted a project for the use of mobile phones in 10 secondary schools.

So the question, should text-messaging lingo be taught in colleges? The debate has supporters on both sides of the coin. While collegians are routing for it, it isnt surprising that the faculty brushes it off as a fad that will soon pass.

Straight talk
"Text messaging is very popular on a large scale in India and we really need to know about it in a more organized manner. I use it a lot with my friends. In fact, I have even started using it while writing my exam papers as it saves time. The course need not be too long as there is not much to learn. One should be taught ways of using SMS fruitfully and learn its many uses. It works great for seminars and workshops when we have to take down notes fast and even in class rooms," observes Prerna Thakur, a 12th Standard Arts student from St Andrews College.

The flip side
Dr (Miss) Minu Madlani, Vice Principal, Commerce Jai Hind College, is quite disturbed about the craze thats driving students to get hooked onto SMS. "They are forgetting the art of writing properly. It may help in communication but it isnt something that needs to be taught in colleges. In fact, most students know about it. In urban colleges anyway the students are familiar with SMS. Maybe in semi urban colleges they may need guidance. Instead, I feel there maybe a need for students to learn how to use the different technology developments."

Mehzabin Joarawala, SYBCom, Jaihind College still argues the case in favour of colleges teaching text messaging. "It must be made compulsory since our speed will improve while writing.

Secondly, we can use all the short forms in the limited space provided and improve our vocabulary skills in the bargain. I use it with friends and family. It will not spoil our English but provide a substitute and base for it. The short forms will help us to use sentences in a precise form and not compress the whole matter."

Using SMS for speed notation seems to be the main use and therefore an argument in favour of teaching it in colleges; but as Anjali Lokur, French teacher at St Xaviers College states, "This is not something that needs to be taught. Students easily get the hang of it and many develop their own individual short forms. Besides technology is moving so fast, that another revolution in it will make SMS obsolete. We might have photo conversations soon."

Since students feel SMS is a speedy form of communication many are asked why they do not want to opt for short handwriting, which is very good. But the response from Prerna and Mehzabin is, "Shorthand writing is a more technical work oriented method but SMS can be understood by all since it is faster and easier."

Priyanka studying in FYBCom at Hinduja College adds, "One should learn it for the sake of knowledge, but for a short period. It is great to communicate with people and at times for work it is very useful. Once you get the hang of it one can use it all the time. But it is necessary for the opposite person to also understand the system. Everyone must learn it otherwise it wont work."

The result
The Daily Mail reported that Nick Seaton of the Campaign for Real Education said, "I cant think of any reason why mobile phones should be used in the classroom. Its just another distraction from what youngsters should be doing which is learning."

And Eunice De Souza former head of the English Language Department at St Xaviers College also rips the whole idea apart with a terse response, "It sounds ridiculous. Students can do it on their own. There is no need to teach this. The University is not for teaching trends, which are temporary. It is a place where something of enduring values is taught."

Does that end the debate or are the two parties still willing to argue some more-maybe via SMS?
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Posted on : 9/11/2005
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