Spelling: How to Become More Effective

picture of a girl written I can spell

What’s the point of spelling? Really?

It has always been a dilemma for me in the classroom.  I’ve seen plenty of children put off English by a relentless focus on the order of the vowels and consonants.  It’s also a melancholy feeling to read work which has been painstakingly scribed in a dreary classroom somewhere when the whole world shimmers just out of reach and you know, you just know that the writer has reached for ‘mean’ when they knew ‘malevolent’; they just couldn’t spell it.

So what is the point?  Spellcheck, speaking into Word documents, ChatGTP, the most capable dictionary you will ever need just there in your pocket at all times.  Why bother?  In fact this question perplexed me so painfully that you are currently reading the second (sensible) draft of this as the first one just got way too esoteric.

If you have read this far (or are just intrigued) – contact Zac.  He advised me (rightly) to not get too psychedelic with this piece.

If you are still interested in spelling, well…you surprise me.  Let me offer this anecdote as you will be aware of my digressive and discursive style by now.  

When the Apollo 13 mission experienced an enormous technical failure, Cmdr. James ‘Jim’ Lovell had to recalculate, rewrite and reprogram the stricken lunar module to come back from their erroneous lunar orbit.  Under enormous stress and physical/mental duress he used his paper NASA command log and a pencil to do some immense arithmetic.  Even the most infinitesimal of errors would be fatal; condemning his crew to overshoot the Earth and continue towards an unbelievably lonely and existentially negative mind-bending end.  Go and google him right now!  

The point?  The point is, knowing is one thing.  Applying is another.  When will you need to make that call?  What will be at stake?  What will it matter?  

Ok, ok. 

IF you are still here, well done.  Some advice for you below.

Affective – Effective.  You are more EFFicient and EFFective if you only use ‘E’.  See what I did there?

Stationary- Stationery.  E is for envelope.  Right?

Lead-Led.  See, this has so many ways to go wrong.  Just remember being led means seeing the light (LED).  Ok, ok.

Cemetery-all ‘e’s.  Say them out loud with your own hand round your neck “e e e”.  See?  

Thanks and let me know any others you want to be resolved. 

J Swift is an English tutor with Newman Tuition, currently teaching at an international school in the Middle East. To book a lesson with him, or one of our other excellent tutors, please call us on 020 3198 8006, email us at [email protected], or complete the form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.

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