Textism in the Classroom: A Writing Destruction for School Learners in South Africa





Textism, Sepedi language, Social media, Social media effects, Cultivation theory


The rise of the Third Industrial Revolution (3IR) introduced various interactive digital platforms such as computer-mediated communication (CMC). These platforms include social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Instagram. During the exchange of messages, social media users use language distinctively to express their thoughts. Both conventional and non-conventional writing styles manifest. For instance, while others use well-formed language in line with the conventions of a standard language, some use unconventional language, which is termed multiple names such as textism, texteese, and social media language. Since most of the social media users’ age profiles match the age group of learners in secondary schools, it became necessary for this study to explore the possible impact of social media on learners’ academic writing, particularly in the official indigenous languages of South Africa. This study used a qualitative research approach to explore the impact of social media on learners’ writing of the Sepedi language in 10 secondary schools in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. Using focus group interviews and document analysis, the paper discovered that learners’ application of writing mechanics such as grammar and punctuation marks are affected by social media. The paper is conceptualised through cultivation theory.

Author Biography

Kganathi Shaku, University of South Africa

Dr Kganathi Shaku is a senior lecturer and a researcher in the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, at the University of South Africa (UNISA). He has a PhD in languages, Linguistics and Literature. His areas of research interest include Applied linguistics, Internet Linguistics, Paremiology, and General linguistics. His current focus it’s on social media and language. He is involved in multiple projects which aim at the development of African languages and the promotion of multilingualism.