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Teachers Can't Spell Either: Why Spell-Checker Isn't Adequate

While speaking to over a hundred educators, I asked, "Raise your hand if you have ever abandoned the perfect word choice when writing because even the spell-checker couldn't recognize your attempt." I was shocked. More than 90% of the room raised their hands. Something is deeply wrong with how we are teaching English!

I believe a majority of English speakers are frustrated with our language. We jokingly say, "it is illogical," and shake our heads. Secretly many highly educated professionals are embarrassed because they cannot spell. The same people who master complex computer languages, understand the workings of the human body, probe the theories of quantum mechanics, solve challenging math problems, and learn multiple languages cannot spell in English.

As a culture we need to learn the logic of our language! When English speakers know how and why words are spelled in a particular manner and what their options are, spelling is revolutionized. Rather than becoming a tool which limits our vocabulary by eliminating words we cannot use, spell-checker becomes truly useful. When the spell-checker underlines a misspelled word, the writer can either immediately see the reason for the error or identify the sound that has multiple spellings and try the other options. English spellings are not random and everyone can master this material.

When most of our educators cannot spell and spell-checker doesn't help them, it is time to approach English spelling differently. Rather than memorizing lists of individual spelling words and thinking our language is crazy, it is time to learn how English really works and appreciate the power of our complex code.