Spelling tests – How well do you score?

ABC

Familiar to most will be the weekly spelling test held on a Friday morning after a week’s practice at learning a list of words. Some will have dreaded the test fearing they may forget the “i before e”, “silent” letter or double letter rules, for example, their inadequacies made all too obvious by the large red crosses. Others would have relished the experience, requiring little effort to learn words they already knew, seemingly by osmosis, with the expectation of large red ticks and 10/10.

Spelling test

I dare say that most of you reading this blog are of the 10/10 variety. Just to be sure this is so, I have set you a little spelling test to do before you read any further. Please get your pen and paper, finger and notebook, or keyboard ready, then press PLAY to take the test.

So how did you go?

I hope you could see from that exercise that knowing how to spell has a lot to do with meaning. In fact the spelling of many of our words in English has more to do with morphology than with sound, and although sound can be helpful there are often many different letters or letter combinations that can be used to represent the same sound, for example:

eye

According to the Bullock Report, published in 1975:

“For 6092 two-syllable words among the 9000 words in the ‘comprehension vocabularies’ of a group of 6-9 year olds, 211 different spellings of the phonemes were needed – and these spellings required 166 rules to govern their use! Even at that, 10% of the words had to be left aside as ‘exceptions’; which means that ‘even if a young child memorised these rules while learning to read he would still encounter hundreds of words not governed by them.’”

Lists of words, such as spelling lists, provide little support for learners, rarely providing context or meaning which might help them remember the words, or choose the correct meaning and therefore spelling, as shown by the spelling test exercise given above.

Alphabetical

In his book “Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story”, Michael Rosen explains that transmitting meaning is the reason for writing, for having an alphabet.

Rosen describes the alphabet as “a stunningly brilliant invention. We could call it a ‘cunning code’ or a ‘system of signs’ whereby we use some symbols (letters) to indicate some of the sounds of a language. … Though it is wonderful, there are some snags for users …” including:

  • letters and letter combinations do not represent the same sound each time they are used (e.g. ‘c’ in ‘cat’ and ‘city’)
  • letters represents different sounds according to regional accents
  • a particular sound is not always represented by the same letters (see the ‘eye’ example above)

He says that “Becoming or being a reader of English involves absorbing all these variations and then forgetting that they exist.”

a phonic's teacher's lament

He explains that the alphabet is more than a system of sounds and syllables and that “Our forebears devised alphabets so that they could store and retrieve meaning … over time and/or space”.

While not speaking specifically about learning spelling words, in his book “Why Don’t Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How The Mind Works and What It Means For Your Classroom” (referred to in a previous post here), Daniel T. Willingham consistently refers to the importance of meaning when acquiring knowledge. He says,

“Teachers should not take the importance of knowledge to mean they should create lists of facts . . . some benefit may might accrue, but it would be small. Knowledge pays off when it is conceptual and when the facts are related to one another, and that is not true of list learning. Also … such drilling would do far more harm by making students miserable and by encouraging the belief that school is a place of boredom and drudgery, not excitement and discovery.”

When a child scores poorly in a spelling tests and their errors are marked in red they see themselves as bad spellers, lose confidence in their ability and have a defeatist attitude before they even try.

Why is spelling important?

Standard spelling is essential to ensure the meaning of the message is transmitted correctly from writer to reader. While readers may very quickly notice spelling errors in text they are reading, these few errors, when embedded in meaningful text, rarely inhibit the transmission of meaning. However if the bulk of the text is in nonstandard spelling, the message would be virtually indecipherable.

How do we learn to spell?

The most effective way most of us use to learn to spell is reading. While reading we are exposed to a large number of correctly spelled works in context. If we read often enough, we see words frequently and learn to recognise them. We notice when they are misspelled and so recognise how they are spelled.

The importance of spelling correctly is relevant to and a tool for our writing. The learning of particular words is best done in the context of writing.

These are some strategies that can be used with beginning writers:

  • Model writing for them, let them see you write for real purposes, think out loud so they can see what you are doing, for example: “I going to write a . . . I’m going to start … I need to write … ”
  • Encourage them to write for self-expression, to share ideas, to tell a story . . . sustained and uninterrupted writing without the fear of a red pen anywhere.
  • Encourage them to listen to the sounds in the words and write any of the letters they know (Beginners usually start with the initial consonant, then perhaps the initial and final consonant. Vowel sounds are the most difficult to hear and differentiate and are irregular in how they are represented.)
  • Respond to their writing with written comments to their messages, modelling the correct form, for example: If the child writes “I wet to the bich on the weced” you could reply with “Did you have fun when you went to the beach on the weekend?” This enables the child to see the importance of writing for communication, demonstrates the correct spelling without being “corrected” and provides a model which can be used in future writing.
  • Encourage children to proofread their own writing by circling words they weren’t sure how to spell. Don’t always expect them to discover the correct spelling. Being able to recognise when a word is or is not spelled correctly is a first step in developing competence.
  • Notice and comment on any development that can be seen in the child’s spelling ability, for example: “You have written the word ‘kitten’. You have written the ‘k’, you know that it begins with ‘k’; you have written the ‘t’ you can hear in the middle and the ‘n’ at the end. You have listened very well to the sounds in the word.”  
  • If you want to give a child a list of words to learn, use words that have been misspelled in independent writing. Independent writing provides you with information about what the child wants to write about.
  • As they begin using technology for writing, show them how to use the tools available for checking their spelling.

bee 5

As a final note, in the Conversation this week was an article by Nathaniel Swain, entitled Spelling bees don’t teach kids literacy, or much else. The article discusses a soon-to-be aired television show that pits nine to thirteen year old children against each other in a spelling competition.

Swain says,

“How would you go spelling feuilleton, stichomythia, cymotrichous, or appoggiatura? More importantly, do you know the meaning of these words, and could you use them in a sentence?

Challenging and insightful, or obscure and essentially pointless? Spelling bees encourage endless memorisation of complex but low-frequency words – and are a distraction from the core of literacy education.”

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

 

 

 

50 thoughts on “Spelling tests – How well do you score?

  1. Pingback: Invention vs gobbledegook | Norah Colvin

  2. Bec

    Great article, Nor! I got 2/10 on your spelling test. It reminded me of a South Park episode (of all things) where the kids were at a spelling bee and someone was given a very challenging word (a quick Google tells me it was Krocsyldiphithic). So becasue some context is given to help with meaning in spelling bees, the person needing to spell it asked for it to be used in a sentence, and the sentence given was “Krocsyldiphithic is a hard word to spell.” Great tips for helping kids to learn to spell. It’s so easy to think quickly correcting younger learners is the right approach, so it’s really great to receive ideas for alternatives, as you have done in this post.

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    1. Norah Post author

      2/10!!!! Who taught you to spell!?
      That’s a funny South Park story. How many times has a sentence like that been used!
      Quite often just telling a child a spelling they are requesting is the best thing to do (particularly if there is no way it can be ‘sounded’ out) but other times it is good to encourage them to have a go. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      You are a dear! Thanks Charli. I can see that there were some difficulties not only with the accent, but with the recording perhaps too! I appreciate that you made the effort, took the time to do the test, and share your results. I am honoured. 🙂

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  3. Sherri

    Great discussion going on here Norah, and as usual I am late to the party so won’t say much other than I used to be a good speller, back in the day, but it’s gone to pot in recent years. I blame living in America for so long 😉 But it wasn’t until I returned ‘home’ to the UK and to the work force as a legal assistant that I ran into trouble, with my boss accusing me of using too many ‘Americanisms’. I missed out on a good job once too, as I had to type out a letter to demonstrate my knowledge of Word and Excel, using audio dictation (which I hate…remember that whole verbal/visual thing?) I trained to use shorthand – yes, back in the day, ha! – which was like learning another language and loved that (forget it now though) so although I used dictation for many years, I never did like it. Anyway, apparantely I used too many American spellings. I didn’t think I had, but there you go. I don’t know what’s what half the time 😉 What I can’t stand is text speak. None of my children use it either. So that makes me proud 🙂 I’m going to come back and take your spelling test and see how I do…will let you know 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, especially of missing out on a good job because of your international spelling disability. I must admit I get confused about some words, especially those with an ‘s’ or a ‘z’ like recognize or hypothesize. It makes me question if the spell check is on the correct setting. It usually tells me the opposite of what I think; and though I Google it many times, I can never remember which it should be. I figure some of my readers will think it correct and some will think it is wrong whichever I choose so try to not worry too much.:)
      You mention dictation also. I imagine that could be rather difficult with different accents as well. You are pretty clever learning shorthand. I did the “academic” rather than “commercial” strand in school so didn’t get to use it. It looked like fun, a secret code!
      I won’t be offended if you don’t do the spelling test. It was more fun for me than for any of you. I should have made it shorter! The accent could make it difficult. I didn’t try to make it easy. 🙂

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      1. Sherri

        Ah yes..the ‘s’ and the ‘z’. I just go with everything British is with a ‘s’ and then I know it’s okay…I hope!!! Haha…I like that: ‘international spelling disability’. I should have claimed that at the interview shouldn’t I? You give us a lot to think about Norah, it’s great fun going back to all of this and I’m glad, I admit, that I’m not the only one dealing with this confusion! I will try to do the spelling test asap…it looks fun and I do like a challenge! I hope you’re having a lovely day 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thank you, Sherri. I have had a busy couple of days at work, so trying to catch up on comments, both here and on other blogs, now when I should really be in bed! But it is so enjoyable, and I don’t want to miss anyone. I’ll have to try to remember the ‘s’. ‘s’ comes first. That might be my mnemonic! Thanks for the tip.
          I hope you are having a good week. 🙂

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          1. Sherri

            Ahh…glad to help!!!! A good and busy week thank you…sun is still shining here! Ahh Norah, you must be so tired. Hope you get to bed soon and have a refreshing night’s sleep…see you soon 🙂

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              1. Sherri

                Hi Norah, just now returning after a family medical emergency, which explains my absence and lack of blogging. And look, 5 days later, I can’t believe it. But yes, the sun is still shining and I hope you are having a lovely day (or I should say a good night, I think, since it’s 3pm here) 🙂

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                1. Norah Post author

                  Thanks Sherri, We’ve both been away for different reasons; mine more pleasant than yours. I haven’t yet checked your most recent posts, but hope all is going well again now. 🙂

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                  1. Sherri

                    I’m glad your reasons have been pleasant ones Norah 🙂 My brother was taken suddenly and unexpectedly ill with a heart scare the week before last which threw us all for a loop. But…he is recovering and having tests to show what caused it. He is active, fit, on the go, and my baby brother, and I love him so much!!!!!! Anyway, getting back on track slowly and recovering. Thanks so much for asking Norah. I look forward to catching up with you as the week goes on… 🙂

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                    1. Norah Post author

                      That would have been very scary for you all, Sherri. I’m sorry I was out of the loop while you were going through this difficult time. I hope the tests show what occurred and how to prevent anything further. I’m pleased to hear he is making good progress and hope that continues.
                      I, too, look forward to catching up with you as the week progresses. 🙂

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  4. Charli Mills

    Interesting post and discussion you have going on here. Between your comment on the spelling test (regarding your accent, which I find delightful to listen to) and Anne’s comment about Americanisation of English, I almost feel as if discussing spelling between Australia, Great Britain and America is like composing a rabbi, priest and pastor joke. One day an Aussie, Brit and Yank walked into the classroom to take a spelling test…

    Personally, I’ve always struggled with breaking down spelling. I need meaning more than structure to understand. If a teacher can show me the meaning, then I can understand the lesson. But if it is rote, I respond poorly. In kindergarten, I remember the nuns getting upset with me because instead of circling which was greater, two birds above the branch or one, I drew a story about the birds. I was an early story-teller! 🙂 No one can explain how I learned to read because, according to my teachers, I performed poorly in class, yet my second grade teacher discovered that not only could I read, I could do so at a level beyond grammar school. In standardized tests, reading comprehension was consistently near-perfect, making me “exceptional” and yet other skills were dismal, making me “remedial.” Schooling success was always a yo-yo experience for me. I believe it’s because I can’t do rote. In college, I learned to study according to my strengths (I actually took a class in how to be a better student and I wonder why we don’t teach such skills in grade school).

    Your posts are significant because we are all still learning and we have to get a handle on this ridiculous emphasis on standardized testing. Though I’m a strong reader and writer, I still struggle with remembering spelling rules and punctuation. I’m grateful for spell-check, my style-books and my wonderful online dictionary, but cringe with auto-correct on my phone. I’m forgiving of typos and will make changes if a responder requests it, though. I’m also picking up British variants! I suppose my writing will become more global! Perhaps I’ll even learn English English. 😀

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    1. Norah Post author

      Wow, Charli! What a depth of information there is in your comment and lots to think about. Learning is definitely a complex activity and every response there has been on my blog (in general and to this post specifically) adds confirmation to that. Just as with spelling, for every “rule” there is at least one exception. The reading ability you acquired ‘somehow’ is phenomenal. I’m assuming you are also a speed reader. You read and respond to a huge number of blog posts (that I am aware of), write your own posts many of which require further reading, and discuss books and other materials you have read. Me? I’d love to be a speed reader but I think I’m a slowie, and my comprehensions is not that great. I like to reread to ensure I have got the correct message.
      I agree with you about the importance of meaning. Willingham would too. And like you I find the auto-correct on my phone and iPad frustrating. How dare they think they know what I want to say! Rote and memorization are definitely not my thing – otherwise I’d do a lot better in trivia competitions but, like you, I have other strengths. I just need to remind myself what they are from time to time. Thank you for being there (here) with your encouragement and support to help me do that! 🙂

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  5. Ula

    I used to use that poem to teach ESL. I loved it. I made it a point to learn it so well that I could read it really fast to them without making a mistake. I think it was many students favorite lesson. Luckily, it didn’t discourage them from learning English. I bet that how you’d read it is completely different from how I’d read it (with my midwestern US accent).

    I was one of those kids that had a really good memory for words, and this meant I was asked by teachers to participate in spelling bees. I hated spelling bees and often misspelled words on purpose just so I wouldn’t have to participate. I loved spelling and vocabulary tests though. I have always preferred writing I guess.

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    1. Norah Post author

      It would be interesting to get a few of us with different accents together and compare how we read that poem! It is definitely a good one, and you must have done well to be able to read it quickly. I’m sure your students enjoyed it. I guess recognizing the differences in our accents supports the need for standard spelling. Invented spellings or writing it how it sounds wouldn’t translate well across the waters.
      Interesting that you purposefully misspelled words to not be included in spelling bees. We didn’t have them at school (that I can remember) so I’m not sure what I would have done. Writing is always much more fun, of course! 🙂

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  6. Sarah Brentyn

    I really don’t think spelling bees are meant to teach children literacy. Unless children are forced to participate in spelling bees during school, it would not interfere with their learning of high-frequency words (which would be in the classroom). The children who enter spelling bee competitions are probably highly literate already. My younger son has been asking to enter a spelling bee for years. He enjoys putting letters together and creating words–this is fun for him. He was spelling antidisestablishmentarianism when he was four. Why? Because he wanted to. Did he use it in every day speech? Not unless he was spelling it for someone (like his grandparents). But it made him happy.

    On the flip side, we have my older son who does the horrid dance of memorizing, taking the test, and forgetting the words. Every. Week. It’s a waste. We are at a loss. The “Respond” method (and modeling) you’ve mentioned has backfired for us. When we use the correct spelling of words to answer his sentences that are full of spelling errors, it reinforces that he can write that way and still communicate. He argues that he can spell everything wrong and people still understand it so he doesn’t need to correct it. It works much better (for him) if people just correct his work. Also, although he reads A LOT, he still cannot spell most of the words he’s been seeing in these books over the years.

    I remember that Michael Rosen book from a previous post. I have got to get that!

    I am so sorry about the length of this comment! O_o

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Sarah. I appreciate that you took the time to read my post and to respond with such thought and depth, adding value and meaning to my post. There is never a need to apologize for that. I am honoured. 🙂
      You are perfectly correct in saying that the purpose of spelling bees is not to teach literacy, and that maybe the children participating in the competitions are already highly literate. Sometimes I think it’s good to see that there are trophies for “academic” pursuits. There are plenty for sports and arts, why not spelling?
      I remember you mentioning your son’s delight in spelling antidisestablishmentarianism in a previous post. (I’ve had to check with what you have written – my spell checker doesn’t recognize it!) Does his prowess include other words also? I remember when I was at school one of the ones we used to enjoy spelling was ‘ornithorhynchus’ and another ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ (another two the spell check doesn’t know!) Do you think you would enter your son into a spelling bee competition? I think Swain’s point was that children would be spending a lot of time learning a lot of random words in the hope that they would learn the ones they would be asked; time that could be spent doing other (more meaningful) things. I guess for me, I would question whether the decision was made by the child or whether there had been an inordinate amount of pressure put on the child to study and compete.
      Thanks for sharing the information about your older son who experiences difficulty with standard spelling. Interesting that the modelling didn’t work with him and that he doesn’t think he needs to spell correctly if he can be understood. This may be so with a personal audience, but not so for a wider audience. I wonder how he would fare if he encountered a book (you say he reads a lot) with non-standard spelling. Just thoughts.
      Thanks for sharing.

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      1. Sarah Brentyn

        Yes, he likes “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” but says it’s not a “real” word so it doesn’t count. 😀 I’ll have to teach him “ornithorhynchus”. He has always been an exceptional speller. He plays with letters like other kids play with Legos (he hates Legos). So, yes, his spelling was at about a high school level when he was in K. I take no credit for his abilities. As far as doing something more meaningful, it was meaningful to him because he was a toddler and enjoyed it. He still loves spelling. More importantly (for me as a parent), he has learned everyday words quite easily, too, and has always been able to use them in the correct context. Spelling bees. Well…I have not entered him in a spelling bee. I…am treading lightly here but don’t know…what he would encounter. The, um, er, drive of some of the kids and parents seems…um, er…strong. I’m am trying not to be judgmental or offensive to anyone here.
        Interesting thought about my older one reading a book full of errors. I wonder. Overall, he is a numbers person and has never done well in spelling even though he reads so much. A true (but extreme) example is “house” or “February”. Forget the fact that, when first learning, these might be difficult and imagine how many times he must have seen these words in his life. He is ten years old! It just doesn’t click. Period. It’s possible that this is part of how he processes things with Asperger’s.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Thanks for coming back with more, Sarah. It is a fascinating topic. The way each of your children learn, and their general abilities are very different. If anyone could attest to different learning styles, you certainly could. When I “listen” to you explain how they learn, I hear a sense of acceptance and appreciation of each. I get no sense of wishing they were any other way. I admire that. So many parents wish their children were other than they are and fail to appreciate the uniqueness of their essence. My son initially had difficulty pronouncing “r” substituting a “w” sound for it (quite common I believe). He also confused ‘b’ and ‘d’, often reversing them in his writing, a confusion that persisted until he was about 8. It wouldn’t have really been remarkable except that his name is Robert. So he pronounced it “Wobert” and spelled it “Rodert”! He was an early reader (at age 3) and was reading well above the level expected at that age. As you have shown, there is not always a correlation. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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          1. Sarah Brentyn

            Thanks, Norah. It’s true. I love my boys. They each have their strengths and weaknesses as we all do. I get a hard time from people because they think I should be telling my kids they’re the “BEST!” at everything. Well, they’re not. (Neither am I.) That’s what makes them who they are and it’s fine with me. 🙂

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    2. Charli Mills

      Sarah, first I love that you know the differences so well between your sons. It has always fascinated me how different each of my three children are. I read a lot, my middle daughter reads a lot, yet we each struggled for different reasons with the way spelling is broken down and taught. I’m like your eldest, I’m well-read, have high reading comprehension, but I can’t “remember” spellings, and I often invent my own pronunciations. Yet I’m a writer and a presenter! It can still work. 🙂

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      1. Sarah Brentyn

        Aw, thanks. They are quite easy to compare and contrast. 😀
        How interesting… You are an amazing writer. I suppose that reading comprehension trumps spelling. That might not be a popular view but it would seem understanding and retaining what you’ve read would help your writing a lot more than memorizing spelling words with the technology what it is. Sad, but true.

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      2. Norah Post author

        Those differences between learners are very real. Thanks for reminding me, Charli. I meant to add that in my comment to Sarah. The differences highlight the need for a variety of methods and strategies tailored to individuals. There is no ‘one size fits all’ secret.

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  7. TanGental

    Bloody stupid language, but, like democracy better than the alternatives. Not the point, was it?! I hated spelling tests, not because I was especially good or bad, but because some were random and I didn’t know what they meant. Like Anne says, punctuation would have been useful, as well as some grammar but that is looking back; I’d have hated lessons in rules too, I imagine because they would all have been rote. English’s problem is that it was the common man’s spoken language. Post the Norman Conquest, the Court and the Nobility spoke French and wrote Latin. The serfs and peasants couldn’t write and so English grew as a popular and simple form of communication. Codifying a language’s spelling when it had so many regional variations in dialect and pronunciation proved long and complex – witness the time it took to create a full dictionary. It wasn’t meant to be written down so it’s not really surprising it’s a mess. That’s a reason, not an excuse. We should be more tolerant of variations in spelling so long as the meaning is clear as usually it is. So, to conclude the reason we have such a dire set of spelling rules is all down to … The French!! Les Salauds!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Geoff,
      Thanks for your comment, including a little of the history of the language, which is always interesting. Rosen goes into quite a bit of detail in his book “Alphabetical”. I enjoyed listening to it though couldn’t quote anything without re-reading.
      I agree with you that meaning needs to be be clear or there is not much point in writing a message at all. Is writing only writing if it carries a message?
      I also agree that we need to be tolerant of differences in spelling e.g. UK English and American English. Also the differences in spelling in texting I guess, but I don’t like to see those used elsewhere. However I’m not too keen on seeing large numbers of misspelled words in published text. I think it shows a lack of care and respect for the reader. I don’t mind one or two but more than that seems sloppy when every computer has a spell check. On the other hand, there are many people who don’t find spelling easy to master, for a variety of reasons, and I don’t necessarily think their voices should not be heard just because they can’t spell. However, if they wish to publish something for others to read, maybe they could use a spell check or ask someone else to check it for them before hitting the “publish” button.

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      1. TanGental

        I agree I don’t enjoy sloppy work but this has made me wonder at my reaction. Am I just sticking with a tradition that is in fact imposing a justifiable standard or a restriction meaning it is less available. As you point out we accept varieties in both spelling and meaning – teens are always changing meanings – ‘sick’ for ‘good’ being a case in point. That annoyed me until my mother pointed out that the adoption of ‘gay’ to mean homosexual annoyed her – she could no longer call someone ‘gay’ meaning lively and happy without having to explain. English benefits from such flexibility. To stop that, to have an Academie Anglais as it were would be hugely detrimental. So, if I can contend meanings adapting and national spelling variables why am I so hide bound by traditional spelling if I can hide stand what someone means even if ‘misspelt’? I don’t have an answer, as always, just a lot of questions!!

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  8. Annecdotist

    I didn’t take the spelling test right to the end, but I did enjoy hearing you read out the words. I absolutely agree that we learn spellings best by reading, though one of the interesting things I am finding is how in some published works things are not written the way I think is correct. It isn’t so much with spellings, although as with TV, there is a creeping Americanisation into English English, but definitely so with punctuation, which actually wasn’t taught much at school (unless I’ve repressed it so far back).

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for having a go at the spelling test, Anne. I wasn’t sure if anyone would. 🙂
      Thanks also for your comment. More than errors of spelling, I think many errors in published text e.g. blogs and blog comments are more to do with typos, not using a spell checker, or an automatic spell checker substituting a different word from that which was intended going unnoticed. I am happy to overlook one or two, but don’t like to see more than that, especially when I have to stop and reread to figure out what the intended word was. If I find a large number of typos in comments on my blog I tend to edit them out when I am responding. I hope the writers don’t mind, but I think it makes their writing look more professional anyway. There’s no red pen so no one else is any the wiser.
      Punctuation does seem more problematic though. There seems to be some lack of agreement about use of many forms of punctuation other than the full stop. I think everyone agrees on that, but as for commas, semicolons, colons and indicators of direct speech, quotes and titles there seems to be some lack of consensus; it depends who you read/listen to.
      Perhaps you could tell us what you think? 🙂

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  9. writersideup

    Spelling was always something I excelled at, I must say. Won spelling bees, etc. As my brain continues to get foggier and foggier, though, I’m finding myself having trouble with some basics on occasion and it frustrates me beyond belief. Poor spelling, etc. really grates on me! I enjoyed your test, though there were a couple I couldn’t understand because of the recording itself. For most, since there were mostly two or three different spellings, I typed all version.

    Anyway, it was fun!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for attempting the test Donna, and for reading and commenting.
      I’m not surprised spelling came easily to you. Most people who engage in reading and writing do well with spelling and require little “learning” effort.
      I must say I do like to see correct spelling in published text, but I got very good at reading children’s invented spellings, and enjoyed reading them. Seeing their understanding develop through their invented spellings gave me great pleasure.
      Your knowledge of the language informed you that there was more than one way to spell each word. How clever of you to write each one.
      I apologize that the quality of the recording wasn’t better, but thanks for having a go. 🙂

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  10. Christy Birmingham

    Norah, your posts are always so clever! Here I noted that English really is complex, as ‘c’ can be soft or hard in sound, and that’s just one example. For English as a Second Language learners and kids, it is an uphill climb, for sure. I liked your tip for encouraging children to proofread their work; good tip there!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for commenting, Christy. Of course I didn’t even mention the difficulties of learning English as an other language. We have so many idioms with interpretations that may differ from place to place or in various situations. English as a first language speakers have difficulty enough. I always think of the old picture book Amelia Bedelia who takes everything literally, like dusting the furniture and drawing the curtains!

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      1. Christy Birmingham

        Oh yes and then there’s the complexities of tone and inflection adding to the mix! So, no wonder there are spelling errors in articles I read online. Ah, but today I will be mainly offline and so I wish you a beautiful rest of your weekend, Norah 🙂

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  11. macjam47

    Standardized tests, as well as spelling bees, use words that no one uses in their own speech and writing. How unfortunate! Yes, we need to introduce new words and their meanings, but we should be realistic. Most important, however, is that we should also expect the word to be used in all of it’s contexts. It’s not enough to be able to spell and recite the meaning of a word, knowing how to use the word in conversation and in writing, and to understand it in reading, is the mark of a good vocabulary.

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