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Spellcheck generation ‘failing to write simple words’

Spellcheck generation ‘failing to write simple words’

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New research released by OUP following the introduction of a new spelling test by the Government has raised growing concerns over standards of literacy in schools. This comes after a similar research project commissioned by Mencap revealed in May that over-reliance on technology is also undermining spelling skills amongst adults.

For the first time this year, all six-year-olds have been given a new assessment using phonics – the back-to-basics spelling method that breaks words down into individual sounds. But pupils are failing to spot the difference between words such as “their” and “there” or “cloths” and “clothes” amid confusion over the English language.

Children in primary and secondary schools were increasingly encouraged to look up complex words using dictionaries and electronic spellcheckers, but pupils were falling down when presented with more common words. In most cases, they failed to pick out silent letters or the difference between a single or double letter in words such as “disappeared” or “tomorrow”.

Spellcheckers can be useful but may not provide all the support a child needs to distinguish confusables such as their/there and cloths/clothes.

Jane Bradbury, an English teacher and lexicographer, said schools should focus on developing children’s reading skills to get them used to words with “uncommon” spellings.

This comes after a similar research project revealed in May that over-reliance on technology is also undermining spelling skills amongst adults. Around a third of people in Britain are unable to accurately spell words such as “definitely”, “separate” and “necessary”. The study found that just a fifth of over-18s could properly pick out a series of potentially tricky words from a list. Teenagers and those in their early 20s were the worst spellers, it emerged. Females aged over 65 were officially the best spellers; while men aged 18 to 24 were the worst.

You can read the full news articles in The Telegraph here:

Over-reliance on technology is undermining spelling skills
Spellcheck generation ‘failing to write simple words’

Modern Governor reported on the Ofsted report Moving English Forward in a previous blog post when Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, issued a national challenge to drive up stalled standards of literacy and English.  Unfortunately this research seems to indicate we still have a long way to go. Modern Governor is currently looking at producing a module to support literacy and reading for pleasure. If you would be interested in working with us as a subject matter expert on this topic then please contact Carol or Elaine.

You can read the Ofsted report here: Moving English Forward


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