New Zealand's high school students will be able to use "text-speak" -- the mobile phone text message language beloved of teenagers -- in national exams this year, officials said yesterday.
Text-speak, a second language for thousands of teens, uses abbreviated words and phrases such as "txt" for "text," "lol" for "laughing out loud" or "lots of love" and "CU" for "see you."
The move has already divided students and educators who fear it could damage the English language.
New Zealand's Qualifications Authority said that it still strongly discourages students from using anything other than full English, but that credit will be given if the answer "clearly shows the required understanding," even if it contains text-speak.
The authority's deputy chief executive for qualifications, Bali Haque, said students should aim to make their answers as clear as possible.
Confident that those grading papers would understand answers written in text-speak, Haque stressed that in some exams, including English -- where good language use is specifically required -- text abbreviations would be penalized.
Post Primary Teachers' Association president Debbie Te Whaiti said the authority's move reflects the classroom situation.
"Individual teachers are grappling with it [texting] every day," she said.
The minor United Future Party said in a statement: "Untd Futr is cncernd bout da xeptnce of txt spk 2 b allwd in ritn xams 4 NCEA [United Future is concerned about the acceptance of text speak to be allowed in written exams for NCEA]."