Editorial: Being able to spell is a key skill for youth

By Michele McPherson


Despite my chosen profession, I've never been a perfect speller and there are still words the electronic spell checker reminds me I am yet to master.

In saying that, spelling things correctly is important to me, not only as a journalist, but in my personal life as well.

A Canterbury University study has found New Zealand teachers are not putting their understanding of how to teach spelling into practice in the classroom.

Some put it down to a full curriculum or large class sizes, others say they were not given the adequate skills to teach spelling at their university or teachers college.

In my early schooling years, we were taught about vowels and consonants and the basic rules of spelling.

We spent hours sounding out words, learning which letters did or didn't go together, completing spelling tests and holding in-class spelling bees.

There is no doubt in my mind it was a top priority for my teachers and no one argued it shouldn't have been so.

I accepted that recognising and striving for correct spelling were important skills to take with me into the workplace.

Today, surrounded by self-confessed "grammar geeks" and spelling watchdogs, I cringe at emails littered with text speak and obviously mis-spelt words.

What concerns me more than the mis-spelt words is that I'm not sure if the authors care either way.

At times we have had CVs sent to the newsroom with spelling mistakes in them.

These are immediately overlooked because the applicant didn't take the time to ensure they weren't there.

As a result of my profession, I notice and respect those who make the effort to use correct spelling and grammar.

Taking the time to get it right is a sign of respect for the recipient.

In today's fast-paced world of technology, bad spelling is still an issue for many.

A quick Facebook search revealed at least 10 pages spurred by people's hatred of bad spelling.

Understanding and using the internet, social media and smartphones are things I acknowledge need to be added to today's school curriculum, but this should not be at the cost of the basics of education.

If children can't spell the words to write an essay on their iPad, a CV on their laptop or text a friend on their smartphone, the education system is failing them.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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