Spell Check Is Not The Solution

One of my favorite questions to ask audiences is, "Raise your hand if you have ever abandoned the perfect word while typing because spell check didn't recognize your attempts." What I have discovered is that more than 90% of the American public has had this frustrating experience. Yet across the nation people are suggesting that we no longer need to teach spelling because spell check has made it irrelevant.

A majority of Americans rely heavily on spell check due to weak spelling skills. This is the tool that enables us to write with fewer errors. It is certainly simpler than what many of us were told when we didn't know how to spell a word as a child: "Go look it up!" But how do you look up a word you do not know how to spell? This trouble remains today when even spell check, with all its sophistication, sometimes cannot recognize our attempts because we do not know enough about English spelling to make a well-educated guess.

As a student and later as an adult, spelling was my greatest weakness. As a college and graduate student I relied heavily on spell check, often looking up five to ten words in each paragraph. I learned to type my ideas out without thinking about spelling. Then I would dedicate a lengthy amount of time to poring over all the words with a red underline. I would need to look at the suggested words, pick the right one, and double click. If the one I wanted wasn't in the options, then I would try again and again, until out of frustration I would choose a new word. As an adult I thought I was alone, that there was something wrong with me.

However something amazing happened when I discovered the rules and phonograms as a way to help my struggling readers. As we drilled the phonograms together and dictated words to improve their reading, I began to see words in a new way. Slowly, I needed spell check less often. Now I rarely look up words. Though I write 5,000 to 8,000 words per day, I look up a word in spell check maybe once a week. I rely almost exclusively on the red underline function. When a word is highlighted, I am able to immediately see what is wrong, or isolate the sound that is causing the issue and try an alternate spelling for the sound.

Learning the Logic of English has revolutionized how I spell and enabled me to use my tools more effectively.

Join us in spreading the word!