Have computers destroyed proper spelling? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Have computers destroyed proper spelling?


DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Computers can do a lot these days; most of us probably use a spell checker on documents and emails. Some programs will even automatically correct misspellings. We want to know: Are spell-checkers really making spelling worse?

We took ten Clarke College students and gave them each four words to spell: Three commonly used, but commonly misspelled and one from a spelling bee practice list to see how they would do without a word processor. 

Some of the intentionally tricky words included: Definitely, guarantee, millennium, accidentally, collectible, ridiculous, argument, and confidence.

Professors say they definitely notice if students use spell-check, but don't get a human second opinion.

"You rarely see common spelling errors, although you do see homonym errors. Lead for led; words that sound exactly alike because of course the computer doesn't always know the difference," Chair of Language and Literature Katherine Fischer said.

When it comes to getting handwritten work, Fischer said, "Handwritten, sure. I still see the same errors that I saw when I started teaching years ago, and so do they learn from one or the other? Somebody's got to do a big expensive survey on that."

Together, the ten students had a 60% average; two students spelled all of their words correctly.

Proof perhaps of what professors say: Computers changed some things, but not necessarily negatively.

"They're great aids for thinking, writing, creating. I see that most."

This Saturday at Clarke College, you can see 27 kids battle it out at the Telegraph Herald Regional Spelling Bee. They might get words like precocious and triumvirate. The winner will compete in the national Scripps spelling bee in Washington D.C.

 Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey


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