Is Spelling Still Important?

May 14, 2013 12:27 pm
Should children today even have to learn how to spell? With text language ever dominating the way of communication when it comes to emails and letter writing too, one could perhaps be brave enough to say not. This shortened way of writing, such as ‘C U TMRW’, is quickly becoming a common way of writing rather than just to increase speed and cutting down on the length of a simple text message.
Kings TutorsTo help strengthen this argument, one can not fail to notice that essays are now being written on computers that are equipped with spell check. The Oregon Department of Education, in the US, has even gone as far as to no longer ban the use of these automated spell checkers to pupils in secondary schools in state writing tests. Mark Twain, the American author at the end of the 1800’s, would have indeed been in full support of this with his view that we should “Lift this heavy burden (traditional spelling) from their (children’s) backs. Do not send them toiling and moiling down the 20th century still bearing it, still oppressed by it.”
Yet, this new language leads to other problems that are not just about not knowing how to spell… Grammar, punctuation and syntax are all lost on account of both brevity and slang being preferable. Without being in the know about basic language skills, it is very easy for a sentence not to make sense. This is concisely summarized by the well-known poster with the following expression:
Let’s eat Grandma!’ or, ‘Let’s eatGrandma!’ Punctuation saves lives.
Poor grammar could be the deciding factor in who will be the successful applicant securing an invitation to an interview for university entry or a job. First impressions are everything and quite often this is achieved through a covering letter accompanying a Curriculum Vitae; good grammar and spelling is usually the first thing an employer sees and, more importantly, notices. This all begins at school because before a pupil can even think about applying to university or for a job, they must first achieve good grades by submitting coursework of a high standard and passing their exams. The misuse of an apostrophe may not be a reflection of the pupil’s intelligence, however, will automatically lead to people making assumptions about their ability academically. Therefore, as a result, it is key that these foundations are put in place early on. It is no wonder that tutoring agencies, with students failing to learn the need for these standards at school, are on the rise.
Kings Tutors, started in 2012, is a business that is very much of the belief that pupils need to learn these rudimentary rules about the English language. The reason being that this has to happen if pupils are to be successful in any subject on the National Curriculum.
kings-tutorsIt is worth noting that pupils can not always simply rely on modern day technology to pick up mistakes and correct bad grammar. This could be, for example, the wrong usage of ‘to, two and too’ – three simple and little words but crucial when it comes to them not being used in the wrong place! There is the added problem of a spell checker not picking up the fact that a wrong word may have been used despite correct spelling; for example, the inclusion of ‘maid’ rather than ‘made’ or ‘principle’ instead of ‘principal’ could completely alter the meaning of a sentence and leave the reader in confusion.
Learning how to spell correctly does not only fall under the school subject English; the way certain words have come to be is part of our heritage and culture. A story can be told about each word and individually they are all linked to our history or another culture.
The written word being used correctly is surely something that we, as a nation, do not want to lose. We do not after all live in a world that is purely oral but are, instead, constantly surrounded by print. Writing is now more important to us, in terms of frequency, than at any other time in history to communicate with others. We may no longer often write letters, but the world, and in particular the younger generation, are all involved in the rise of twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media. This is seemingly the way to communicate and statistics show that it is now more common for someone to tweet a friend than to pick up the phone.
It is upsetting that poor spelling has become such a big issue and results in future employers perhaps making a judgment about the intelligence of good candidates. This problem can be eliminated by ensuring these simple foundations are instilled in school children at a young age, it should after all be second nature to then allow the content of an essay to be critiqued freely and with an unbiased starting point.
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