Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Is spelling a lost art?

Autocorrect visual
Is spelling a lost art?

Why can't she spell?

Have you ever been shocked by a friend or colleague that you discovered couldn't spell basic English words?  I've been completely shocked by friends and colleagues who can't spell. They are intelligent, capable adults, but when they need to write things down on paper it becomes clear they can't spell words that my 9 year old has already learnt in Year 5.

The words I've seen adults ask for help with include; 'communicate', 'relationship', and 'development'.

I must admit to being shocked. I have always assumed, possibly naively, that everyone that's gone through the school system and is working in a pretty good job can read and write, and when I say write, I also mean spell.

Remember in school when there was a weekly spelling test alongside the weekly times-table test? My daughters now come home with pretty much the same homework as I did 35 years ago... Spellings and Tables.

The theory is presumably that if you know your tables off by heart, other mental arithmetic is invariably easier and you'll find passing tests, counting change (when using cash on those rare occasions these days) and working out how much you'll pay back in interest if you borrow money for a car, an awful lot more manageable. And let's be honest; when someone calculates something in their heads quickly we are all impressed.

They are that little bit sexier as a result. Or is that just me?


If you can spell you can communicate via the written word. Back when I was a girl in the 80s; how old do I sound now; it was in 10 page letters to your mates and your own made up 'comic' or 'newspaper' depending on how 'trendy' you were. Now it's via emails, text and twitter; but the theory is the same; if you can't spell your audience won't know what you are talking about, and you'll look like a dunce, whether that's fair or not.

But now, the electronic medium we are using to write and communicate with, does the spelling for us, so we don't actually need to know the 'correct' spellings anymore.


Technology and the 'spellcheck' function, that on our tablets and phones now autocorrects every misspelled word before you've even started writing the next one, has replaced the need to know how to spell exactly correctly. And let's face it, you don't even need to be able to type very well it's that good at working out what you are trying to say, even if you barely hit the letters in the right order. All we need is to have a vague idea, from being able to read, that the technologically produced sentence is the one we want. We just need to be happy that the autocorrected word 'looks' right.

In the same way that the calculator eliminated the need for mental arithmetic, has 'spellcheck' eliminated the need to know how to spell? And if not, are we placing the same emphasis on it in schools and in the home now that we have the technology to correct us when we get it wrong?

Do you test your childrens spellings with them every week?
We do.

I still think it's important and it still drives me BARMY when things are misspelled on TV in newspapers and in books; paper, Ebook, whatever.

What do you think?

Is spelling a lost art?

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