National exam | Arts Stream | Catch-up Session 2008

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National exam | Arts Stream | Catch-up Session 2008

The exam’s Comprehension Text

       When computers first started to be used on a wide scale, some people predicted that we would spend so long staring at computer screens that we would end up forgetting how to talk to one another. But in fact, the rapid expansion of electronic communication in the 21st century has had the opposite effect. Rather than retreating into themselves, people are using new technology, in particular email and text messaging, to find more and more ways to expand their network of friends.

       Jane Adams, 23, sends so many messages to her friends. She’s known as the Text Queen. ‘My friends and I take our phones out with us and send messages to other friends saying “we’re in this club and it’s really good. Come and meet us,” she said. It means we don’t have to spend ages planning and evening out. You can just send the same message to everyone’.

       Text messaging and email also help Jane keep in touch with old schoolmates she would probably have lost contact with otherwise. She finds that it’s easier to send a message saying ‘Hi, thinking of you,’ rather than having to write a long letter.

       It seems these forms of communication have filled a gap, offering something that face to face conversation does not. Professor Pam Briggs, a psychologist at the University of Northumbria,  Believes they have become popular because they offer people an opportunity to present themselves in the way that they want to. ‘People seem to really enjoy sending text messages and emails,’ she says. ‘They can take their time planning their message. They prefer it to speaking on the phone to each other – maybe also because this way they can choose when they want to respond to someone.’

       The fact that text messages are so quick and easy is a big part of the attraction. Many people also find text messaging more informal than making a phone call or writing a letter, and therefore simpler to use. Ann Rose, who teaches at a London school, uses email and text messaging to keep in touch with her students. ‘I have always given my number out to students and told them to call me if they have any problems. But no one ever did. Now, they often email or text me with questions about their work. They don’t find it difficult to keep in touch that way, whereas they might feel that a phone call is more of an interruption,’ she said.

       So is it all good? Ann has identified one negative result of text messaging. ‘The popularity of this way of writing among my students,’ she says ‘ can cause a few difficulties as they have started using abbreviations such as ‘ruok’ for ‘are you okay?’ And ‘thx’ for ‘thanks’’.

National exam | Arts Stream | Catch-up Session 2008 with Answers

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