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Comunicar Journal 77: New languages and cultures. Teaching languages for global and digital communication (Vol. 31 - 2023)

Youth digital writing on WhatsApp and the teaching of spelling


Alejandro Gómez-Camacho

Juan de-Pablos-Pons

Pilar Colás-Bravo

Jesús Conde-Jiménez


Instant messaging applications integrated in smartphones have favored the emergence of new digital writing systems, which are characterized by the use of specific spellings called textisms. This study analyses the relationship between the use of textisms and spelling mistakes in academic texts. The methodology applied was descriptive, based on a directed content analysis. The sample consisted of 270 students in the third and fourth years of compulsory secondary education enrolled in twelve public high schools in the autonomous community of Andalusia. Data were obtained from real texts provided by the students participating in the study, extracted, on the one hand, from WhatsApp messages from their smartphones, and, on the other, from academic texts produced as an activity in the secondary school classroom. The results obtained from the descriptive analyses and the bivariate correlation analyses (Pearson coefficient) allow us to affirm that the average number of textisms in WhatsApp of the sample is much higher than the number of misspellings in school texts, which confirms that textisms are intentional discrepancies with the academic norm in the digital context. Consequently, they cannot be considered as misspellings that occur due to a lack of knowledge of the Spanish language, but rather as new forms of language generated by the use of digital technologies.


Young people, social networks, digital writing, WhatsApp, textisms, spelling competence

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