You are here

Spelling myths vs facts

Part two
Thursday, April 6, 2017

Spelling correctly is a skill that takes time and effort for everyone except the few who have very good visual memories. For most of us, seeing a word or reading it over and over is not enough to enable us to spell it correctly. We need to actively learn spelling.

Nevertheless many associate one’s ability to spell with their intelligence. In the same way that some people need to work harder than others to develop their reading and writing skills, spelling skills also take practice. This week we continue sharing some common spelling myths which many believe to be fact.

n MYTH: If you want to learn to spell, you should read more

It is true that spelling is a sub-skill of writing and that writing is a language skill related to reading. However, as skills, the two activities differ enormously. The reading process is both more complex and less demanding than spelling.

In reading, we do not want to concentrate on the ordering of each letter in a word in order to get meaning from the text. We want to read as efficiently and quickly as possible in order to understand the content of what we read.

Reading is dependent on recognition skills. Spelling, on the other hand, is dependent on skills of recall. To spell accurately, we must remember all the letters, in sequence. We must pay attention to detail.

n MYTH: There is no logic or pattern to English spelling. That’s why it’s so hard.

The fact that the English spelling system is not 100 per cent phonetically regular (it is, in fact, 85 per cent regular) does not mean there are no conventions or regularities which can make sense of the spelling system.

Learning these patterns or rules makes spelling much easier. It is easier to learn the exceptions than all the words in the language. Dyslexics need to be taught these rules and patterns since their brain does not pick these up as they don’t think sequentially.

n MYTH: You just need to learn to spell a word once to remember it going forward.

Memory is aided by frequency, recency and value. That is, we remember things best that we use or practise frequently; that we have learned recently; and that are important or meaningful to us.

After a period of learning, we’re able to recall what we have learned for about ten minutes and this then falls steeply.

Eighty per cent of detail is forgotten after 24 hours. However, with proper review after ten minutes, then within 24 hours, then again within a week, and so on, recall can be maintained long-term.

If you’d like to see more of the myths we’ve debunked, check our Facebook page: ALTA TT


Alta has a specially designed Spelling Programme at several venues in Trinidad in Port of Spain, Arima and Chaguanas. Our next cycle begins in October 2017. Call 624-2582 for more information. Volunteer, Donate or Sponsor-a-student. Call 624-2582 or email [email protected] for more info. Keep up to date with Alta on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: ALTA TT.


User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff.

Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.

Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments.

Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.

Before posting, please refer to the Community Standards, Terms and conditions and Privacy Policy

User profiles registered through fake social media accounts may be deleted without notice.