Spelling is important for three reasons:
- Communication: Spelling is a critical component of communication
- Literacy: Spelling and reading skills are closely related and help develop overall literacy
- Employment: Spelling quality has a direct impact on employment opportunities
While autocorrect and spelling software has become a given in our lives, the importance of spelling hasn’t lessened – it’s actually never been more important.
Why is spelling still so important?
As spelling and literacy have reached their apogee across all of human history, so too has the demands on the quality of delivery.
Poor spelling can interfere with:
Our basic ability to communicate
85% of people around the world are connected online and receive email, while 62% of them communicate through social media. The spectrum of risk can be negligible, like sending someone to the wrong address, to lethal, if sending someone instructions on prescriptions.
Online job hunting and posting is growing exponentially, and the first impression most employees will have with their employees is their resume or CV. However, where a peron might be forgiving with a misspelling, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which scan applications for keywords lack any remorse.
It doesn’t end at professional documents either – employers are increasingly to surveying applicants personal social media to check for suitability.
Tolerance for typos is low. On printed materials, it makes the producer look careless or cheap, while online it’s become a signal of a phishing or scamming attempt.
Spelling and the development of communication skills
Communication skills are essential for children to grow and interact successfully with the world. Communication usually begins with simple body language, gestures and vocalisations. As children progress to verbal communication, they naturally develop an early understanding of their native language.
Making the connection between verbal expression and written communication is much more complex, and requires a combination of observation and formal instruction. The foundational skills for successful written communication are learnt at this time, such as the ability to identify letters by sight, and build associations between written patterns and vocal expressions.
Spelling and its role in literacy development
Spelling, the art of correctly assembling words from their letters, is one of the essential components of successful writing. Being confident at spelling leads to confidence in all aspects of literacy. The ability to recognise the links between word of the same origin and understanding word relationships has been proven to aid comprehension skills.
Research has found that spelling, reading, writing and comprehension skills are all closely linked. A research study conducted by L.C. Ehri for the Scientific Study of Reading found that spelling instruction improves reading ability, as it builds a learner’s knowledge of the alphabetic system as it is used in reading.
Teaching young spellers the strategies, rules and concepts to grow their spelling and vocabulary knowledge benefits them in all aspects of their learning, as well as in their everyday life.
Learners who feel confident with letters and word patterns are able to read and comprehend more complex texts. They also have the necessary language tools to better convey their own ideas through both written and verbal communication.
The relationship between written words and sounds can seem arbitrary and difficult for many learners. But building a strong foundational knowledge of the links between forms, letters, sounds and meaning is essential for students to become confident communicators.