How Important is Spelling?
- Parent Category: Upper-Intermediate News Lessons
- Category: Education Lessons
- Written by Chris Cotter
How important is spelling? One British academic thinks it may not be so important. English teachers, scholars, and linguists have been wrong to emphasize the need for correct spelling. He has suggested that various spellings of words should be acceptable if everyone can easily and effectively communicate. Is there any harm if "occasion" were spelled with two s's? Or would the world end if the i and e were reversed in such words as "foreign," "weird," or "neighbor?"
Not everyone agrees, however. In fact, quite a number of academics have gotten in a huff with regards to the proposal. Even if English may have many exceptions to established rules, those rules still exist for a reason. Communication is easier with consistent spelling. Good spelling goes hand in hand with good writing, which implies that the reader shouldn't have to re-read sentences to understand the meaning of the writer. Most academics agree that spelling is just as important as good grammar.
With the popularity of text messaging, in which people ignore proper spelling and grammar for speed, it's become more important than ever to follow spelling rules. What would your impression be of an official letter from the bank or local government with words spelled willy-nilly? Or how would you feel about a glossy business pamphlet which introduced you to a company's products and services, but with numerous spelling mistakes? Equally important, yet also more troublesome, would be an undecipherable business letter or email. What might the consequences be then?
It all comes down to communication. In face-to-face conversations, it proves relatively easy to clarify or explain an idea. Visual clues and tone of voice also help. But written emails and letters require rules for quick comprehension. Despite one academic's wish, spelling can't be ignored.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- I wish that my spelling ability in English were better.
- I wish that my English grammar were better.
- There should be an international form of English different from American English, British English, and so on.
- It's okay if a non-native English student makes many spelling mistakes.
- It's okay if a native English speaker makes many spelling mistakes.
Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.
- One British academic thinks it...
- He has suggested that various spellings of words should be acceptable if...
- Even if English may have many exceptions to established rules, those rules...
- Or how would you feel about a glossy business pamphlet which introduced you to a...
- In face-to-face conversations, it proves relatively...
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- What do you think about spelling well? How important is it? Please explain.
- What would you think if you received an email with many abbreviations and spelling mistakes? Please explain.
- How would you feel if your teacher often spelled words incorrectly? How about if he had poor grammar?
- Why do you think there are grammar and spelling rules? Please explain.
- Should an international form of English follow American rules, British rules, or something different? Why?
Google Search: Type "spelling" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.