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A recent poll of British schoolchildren has come up with the unstartling news that they are better at spelling words that interest them than others. For instance, 85% spelt "Hogwarts" the name of Harry Potter's school, correctly, and 80% got the name of England's football captain, David Beckham, right.

However, only 13% got "playwright" right, and 32% could correctly spell "Shakespeare". In the light of the fact that Shakespeare didn't know how to spell it, I suppose that's not a bad score. I seem to remember that the man himself tried out seventeen different ways of spelling it!

An article about the poll is here.
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Arnie, you've really opened a can of worms here!

Children's (and adults') spelling is steadily going downhill for a number of reasons, but first and foremost it's because in this day and age of videos, DVDs and MTV they read less.

Teaching our children to love reading is a monumental task and starts from infancy. I've seen that reading stories to my children and them seeing me and other family members reading encourages them to settle down with a good book also.

Teachers also play a huge role in how much students learn to love to read ( Do they talk about reading extra-curricular books? Do they encourage borrowing books from the library? Do they set interesting research projects / book reports?).

And how do teachers test spelling? The dictation style spelling test with a list of words out of context is considered by most teachers of the 'communicative' methodology to be old-fashioned and is consequently abandoned. There are, however, lots of fun and effective ways to teach and test spelling. CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) is great in this area with fun spelling games. This makes me wonder exactly how these children were tested.

And of course it's obvious that it's more likely you're going to spell a word you've seen a number of times in written form correctly - a word that is in context and means something to you. How many 10-12 year-olds have read and used the word 'personnel', do you think? Even at school, the personnel is usually called the faculty or staff!
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Let's not forget the evils of txting (sic).
An article in the Times Educational Supplement a couple of weeks ago talked about a GCSE paper that had been submitted with most of the spelling done txt style.
How, wailed the writer, should we mark this?

A letter published the following week gave the answer that had sprung immediately to my mind.

We should mark this wrong and fail the paper.

In one of the Adrian Mole books, Adrian experiments with removing all the vowels from his unpublished novel. Now, in the txt age this satire has become real.

Habent Abdenda Omnes Praeter Me ac Simiam Meam

Read all about my travels around the world here.
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