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teacherDoes Speling Kount?


Flora M. Brown, Ph.D.
Copyright 2005

Our daily lives are so full of errors, approximations and miscalculations that mediocrity has become the norm. When students ask me if spelling counts I often respond by mispronouncing their names. Most students get the point of this demonstration, but sadly some don’t. A small group even insists that it doesn’t matter to them. “What’s the big deal?” students query. Or when errors are pointed out to them students occasionally respond “Whatever!” Are there any good reasons for accuracy in spelling, pronunciation, punctuation, grammar and usage anymore? Why isn’t “close” good enough?

Here are five reasons:

1.Errors in written and spoken language put a barrier between you and the reader/listener. The purpose of communication is to convey your message. Errors block or distort that message or at least interrupt it momentarily. If your error is made in an important life situation such as a job interview you may unknowingly exclude yourself from consideration, especially for professional careers. During an oral report on your current job, grammatical errors make your listeners uncomfortable and uneasy and may be lead to your message being disregarded and disrespected. Learn about the common errors in English at http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/..

2. In our culture we still equate errors in communication with intelligence. Suppose a young lady receives this note from a guy:
i is deeply in love with you.

She will likely have second thoughts about returning his affections (unless she doesn’t recognize the errors herself, in which case they are a perfect match.) While this fellow may be just a careless genius, his errors make his intelligence suspect. Check your own spelling and usage at http://www.sentex.net/~mmcadams/spelling.html

3. Errors in punctuation can give the wrong message.
--a. The teacher called the students names.
--b. The teacher called the students’ names.
In which of these did the teacher insult the students?

4. Misspelling or mispronouncing names is the ultimate insult. Names are very personal. They are the first thing given to us by our parents. Getting someone’s name wrong says that you don’t care about this person. Can you afford this error in your personal and business relationships?

5. Errors in language can cost you loss of money and a second chance. None of us can expect to communicate error-free all the time. Small errors love to pop into our communications on occasion. Vigilance and a spell checker will catch those. But we must strive to avoid the big errors that distort our message, reflect negatively on our intelligence, and undermine our credibility. Yes, spelling counts.











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