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Is text ‘speak’ affecting your students’ spelling and grammar?

63% of English learners do not believe that using text speak is damaging their grammar or spelling despite some using it while writing essays and exams, according to a new study. Research by Kaplan International Colleges, a provider of English courses for teenagers, revealed that 63% of surveyed English learners thought that their English grammar or spelling was not harmed by the fact that they use words such as LOL and YOLO. This claim came despite 5% of those surveyed stating that they use text speak when writing essays and 3% asserting that they use it during exams. The survey also discovered that 14% actually use it while speaking out loud.

A recent study of primary and secondary school children by researchers at Coventry University found no evidence of any detrimental relationships between use of texting slang and children’s conventional literacy abilities.

Lead author Dr Clare Wood, Professor of Psychology in Education at Coventry University, said that her empirical research supported the results of Kaplan’s survey into the psychology of English learners.

She said: “Our own work examined children who used mobile phones and assessed them over the course of an academic year in one study, and over just 10 weeks in another.

“We found that not only was there no evidence of a negative association between literacy skills and the tendency to use texting slang or abbreviations when using SMS, in fact it seemed to be adding value to the children’s conventional spelling abilities, because of the highly phonetic nature of the text abbreviations which are most commonly used.

“They seem to enable children to rehearse their understanding of how speech sounds map onto printed characters in a way that benefits their normal literacy development.”

Digital summer camp for young entrepreneurs

Tech City, East London, home to over 1,340 tech companies is to host a digital summer camp from 10th to 12th July 2013, that hopes to ignite a passion for computing in 3,000 hot shot technology entrepreneurs aged nine to 18.

The event is designed to inspire young people keen to create their own digital products whilst allowing them to learn from the world’s best programmers and digital producers. Supporters include The Mayor of London’s Office, The British Computer Society, The Big Society and Tech City Investment Organisation.

Taking place at Hackney Community College, aspiring digital professionals will be shown how to code, build their own computer game, design the next flash or HTML5 web sensation, create an app with the potential to storm the charts, film the next hit viral video, learn how to use a 3D printer or programme a robot to jam to their own digital dance track. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The Digital Summer Camp will provide a great launch-pad for the technology leaders of the future, helping them to enhance the competitive edge of London’s Tech City and building its reputation as a place where local talent can thrive. Not only will it help London’s whizz kids fulfil their dreams of becoming tech entrepreneurs, through the Apprenticeships Pavilion it will encourage more businesses in the capital to give young people the chance to get their careers off to a flying start.” The Camp is also supporting the teaching of digital skills in young people by offering £50,000 worth of free tickets to companies and organisations keen to invite their own school networks, hoping to engage up to 10,000 Greater London students and educators. With over 100+ exhibitors showcasing the best interactive games, apps, digital displays and effects, attendees will engage in hands-on digital workshops, meet leading digital entrepreneurs and hone their digital skills, and explore digital careers and apprenticeships. Opening times: 9am-6pm Ticket price: £10 (early bird tickets are available at £5 if purchased before June 10th)

To register click on: More support needed for science and engineering

The public want more Government support for students taking on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degrees, according to a new poll by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Of the 2,000 members of the public surveyed, 75% said that increasing the supply of science and engineering professionals is essential to the economic wellbeing of the UK, with 72% saying that boosting the UK’s engineering, manufacturing and science sectors would help bring the UK out of recession.

There was also strong backing for the Government to provide more support for STEM students, with 59% saying that they would back proposals for Government to contribute £5,000 each year towards tuition fees for UK students taking STEM degrees. This is compared to 11% who would disagree.

The results follow the announcement in the recent Queen’s Speech 6

that Government is to take steps to ensure that it becomes typical for those leaving school to start a traineeship, apprenticeship, or to go to university.

Dr Colin Brown, Director of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said of the results: “Boosting the country’s engineering, manufacturing and science sectors is crucial to the country’s economic recovery – but this can only be done if we have sufficient numbers of skilled professionals entering these sectors. “Government needs to consider incentives like subsidies for students pursuing STEM subjects at university, and more needs to be done to promote STEM subjects in schools and colleges.

Brown added: “There is also an urgent need for schools, technical colleges and universities to develop better links to industry – to ensure that people have the right skills to excel in the commercial world.”

May 2013

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