I read a message on Twitter the other day asking whether anyone had examples of using Twitter to teach English. I’m not aware of such a thing but it did get me thinking. Let me explain. Twitter is a social networking service which allows friends, co-workers, like-minded people to stay connected in real time by posting regular updates in response to one simple question – What are you Doing? So it is a kind of micro-blogging (see Literacy Adviser on Twitter in the opposite column). The key element of the message is that it must be in fewer than 140 characters, which is where the art of precis or summary comes into play. Those of us who are old enough to remember will recall the days when summarising an extended piece of prose was a component of the Higher English exam, and the act of summarising, condensing, reducing is an integral part of the reading – and writing – process.
It also reminded me of a mini-epic competition which was run by, I think, the Daily Telegraph a number of years ago, the idea of which was to write an epic story in exactly 50 words, not 49 or 51. It was great fun to use with students, and once they got the idea of an epic there was no stopping them. For once they were being asked to write a story in as few words as possible, and this had its own attractions!
Either, write a mini-epic in exactly 140 characters, post it on Twitter and share it with a wide network of people.
Signing up for Twitter is free
Twitter makes it easy to count the charaters as you write
Punctuation marks and spaces count as a character
Parodies and spoof classics are perfectly acceptable
OR, if you prefer, have a go at the original challenge of writing a mini-epic in 50 words, and submit it via the comments box below. Best entries will be widely circulated.