Improve Your Spelling Skills and Bypass the Spell Check Step


You might think that your spell checker is your savior. After all, how many thousands of  times during your academic and professional life have you used it? Each time you needed to touch type an essay, report, or letter you knew you could rely on your spellchecker to identify misspellings and suggest the right spelling of words. Talk about relief!

But did you know that spell checkers aren’t what will save you from spelling mistakes? In fact, it’s a spelling mistake to rely on spellcheckers and autocorrect features, because they won’t always make sure your content is error-free. In fact, spell checkers have many weaknesses. They cannot identify atomic typos: misspellings where the misspelled word is a legitimate English word. Examples of atomic typos are “four” and “for” or “nuclear” and “unclear.” These errors are almost impossible to catch if you only rely on a spell checker, because these are all correctly-spelled English words, even if they don’t make sense in context.

What’s more a spell checker will flag “ur” – but it might not suggest the right spelling for the word you want. Worse, it might suggest irrelevant ones instead of what you intended to write (like “urn” and “us” rather than “your”). In the end, a spell checker can make things worse instead of better.

However, the most counterproductive thing spell checkers do is affect people who use them. If someone relies entirely on machine-assisted checks, they’ll start to assume that if nothing is flagged in the document, that means everything is fine. They get too complacent, they assume their content’s perfect, and so they don’t proofread or don’t proofread as rigorously. The result: a lot of embarrassing misspellings and misused words.

Don’t despair, though! You can improve your spelling skills easily so you don’t have to rely on anything but your own foolproof spelling knowledge.

Use a Dictionary

Invest in a print dictionary that’s small in size and easy to have around so you can quickly look up words in it. Thankfully, the best dictionaries have online versions too; try the  Oxford and Merriam- Webster ones.

Consult your dictionary each time you’re uncertain of a word’s spelling. Then write it down using pen and paper a few time to really learn its spelling, and you’re good to go. You’ve just learned how to spell that word, and you will most likely never have to question your spelling of it ever again.

Use Spelling Software

You can substantially improve your spelling skills with the help of technology. Practice using spelling activities and play fun spelling games with programs like eReflect’s Ultimate Spelling™. Before you know it, you will become a competent, confident speller!

Be a Smart Proofreader

Proofreading is 95% being intuitive and shrewd, and 5% being attentive to detail. You know which words give you trouble, so look out for them. Words with suffices and prefixes are the usual suspects of many misspellings, so know when the endings –able and –ible are used (as in “formidable” and “responsible”). You’ll immediately be able to spot the incorrect spellings once you’ve mastered this technique. Check it out for yourself with this quick quiz: Is it “impartial” or “imparcial”? What’s the right spelling, “significance” or “significence”?

And then of course there are the homophones and near-homophones, words we all mix up from time to time. Know your “eminent” from your “imminent,” your “proceed” from your “process,” and of course, let us never forget the unholy trio of “their,” “they’re” and “there” – and remember that none of these words would be flagged by a spell checker, even if you use them incorrectly.

Such tricky words often sneak up on us and ruin our writing, but if you’re smart about it you can prevent them from ever messing up another essay of yours. Improve your spelling knowledge and never rely on a spell checker again!


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How Well Do You Know Your Business Jargon?


We’ve all be tempted at some point to use buzzwords and popular phrases such as “innovate” and “think outside the box” in a meeting – or worse, in email correspondence.

We mindlessly throw words out there like “influencer,” “ballpark figure,” and “circle back” when there are simpler words that convey your meaning more clearly. Why are we wasting our time with worn-out words and phrases? Mainly because corporate culture thinks it needs to stand out. It wants its own jargon of empty, pompous phrases, but that’s one of the reasons why this jargon is so hated by people outside corporate culture – and, frankly, outside it as well.

Here’s a collection of business jargon: the words and phrases we hope you’ll never be forced to use. Others are bound to use them with you, however, so it’s good to know what they’re mumbling about.

Analytics — This is a fancy word for information obtained out of data analysis. Analytics is the process of identifying relationships between data and presenting these results.

Buy-In — Asking someone to buy-in is to ask them to agree on an already preset course of action. It’s about convincing others to get on board even if you don’t value their opinion on the matter.

Best Practices — Must-abide-by insights and approaches that you need to follow for better results.

Pivot — A word that beautifully covers up the mess one makes with a project.  If you pivot, you’re adjusting your approach.

Move the needle — This word refers to a product or project that makes an impact, more likely a financially positive one. So if your new software moves the needle, your boss will be very, very pleased.

Piggyback — Piggyback is a great concept about being creative and expanding on someone else’s ideas, but it can also be a lazy way of stealing others’ ideas and giving them zero credit.

Bleeding-edge — This adjective is the perfect example of the business jargon madness that reigns over the business world. Cutting-edge was no longer doing “hip” enough as a term, and the culture frantically searched for a more visually powerful word, hoping it would catch on. This phrase is none other than “bleeding-edge.”

Paradigm Shift — A change of a model, approach, or course of action. It’s been so blatantly abused in business contexts that’s now almost meaningless.

Make Hay — It’s about making the best out of an opportunity or short period of time, usually by being productive or creative.

Eyeballs — This rivals the “bleeding edge” phrase in creepiness, don’t you think?  The word “eyeballs” here is a metonymy (a single word that represents a larger whole). We substitute living, breathing consumers for one part of their body: their eyeballs. For example, you might see the sentence, “More eyeballs need to read and click our Facebook campaign.”

What business jargon do you find that you absolutely cannot stand?


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Will Spell Check Programs Help Improve Your Spelling Skills?


It’s a debate that keeps coming back time and again. Is technology making people dumber? Do we harm our spelling capacities relying on autocorrect and spellcheckers?

Autocorrect and spellcheckers are built-in dictionaries that flag your words each time something you type is not matched to a word contained in the dictionary in question. The system provides you with some suggestions as to what the correct spelling of a word is, even when you don’t need any help. After all, you’re the authority on how your own name is spelled!

Spellcheckers and autocorrect have probably already have saved you from many embarrassing typos, but relying on them entirely is not exactly the best way to ensure your written communication is error-free.

Spellchecker programs suggest the correct spelling of words, but that doesn’t help you learn the correct spelling for yourself. You’re not paying attention to what part of a word you often misspell if you simply choose the correct spelling and are done with it.

But what if you were to rely on your own spelling skills? What if you didn’t have to stop frequently to correct flagged words? This would save you a lot of editing time, and it’s something that will give you the confidence of a competent speller.

Improve your spelling with the help of spelling software

Even if you’re past your initial classroom years, it’s a good idea to keep your skills sharp. You can learn to spell better with the help of a spelling program. By practicing with spelling games and other activities you recall and improve your spelling knowledge, and your daily written output will substantially improve as well.

Rely on your memory and brain to recall a word’s spelling

Investing in a spelling program to help you improve your spelling skills is a conscious decision, but there’s something you can do to help your subconscious get better at spelling, too. It’s simple: stop relying on your editor’s spellchecker to autocorrect or suggest a correct word spelling.

Instead, try to recall the correct spelling yourself. Make your brain and subconscious memory a part of the process, and you’ll find that you really do know how to spell a word. Often, writing down various spellings of a word with pen and paper will help you get it right.

Start a spelling mastery journal

Create a special page on your notebook for new and troublesome words. Each time you find yourself unable to spell a word correctly, note it down.

Visit that list often to practice and learn the correct spelling of each word. With consistent use, this list will become your proof of spelling mastery!

Read a lot

Read quality publications like books, academic and scientific journals, and news from respectable news organizations.

The more you read, the more immersed you become in language. By seeing words spelled correctly, you’ll automatically learn their orthography, and you’ll find your spelling improving without any effort.


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Important American And British Spelling Differences You Should Know


You may already know that the word “pants” means something else entirely in British English (hint: it doesn’t mean “trousers”), but do you know about the words that both British and American English speakers use, yet spell differently?

A basic rule of the thumb that covers these words is that American English spelling tends to be simplified and pronunciation-based. While British English favors the spelling of words as they originally appeared in the language they’ve been borrowed from – for instance, the word “cheque” – American English spellers generally write the word as they sound it out: “check.”

Writers, exchange students, and businessmen and businesswomen need to be aware of these spelling differences when dealing with people in Britain and the US, because using the proper spelling for each country helps avoid confusion, and also lends that touch of professionalism that marks a true global citizen.

Here are the main spelling differences between American and British spelling of English words.

-er/re

Words that end in –re in Britain often have those two letters reversed when spelled in American English. Here are some examples:

British English

centre, fibre, litre, theatre

American English

center, fiber, liter, theater

-nse/nce

While the British use the –nce ending, Americans generally prefer –nse.

American English

defense, license, offense, pretense

British English

defence, licence, offence, pretence

-ize/ise

American English uses the –ize spelling at the end of words, and while some people in Britain accept that as a valid spelling, you’ll usually see those same words spelled with the  –ise ending instead.

British English

apologise, organise, recognise

American English

apologize, organize, recognize

-or/-our

In British English, the preferred spelling of words ending in –our is not maintained in American English; in the United States, the “u” is dropped from the word.

American English

behavior, color, humor, labor, neighbor, flavor

British English

behaviour, colour, humour, labour, neighbour, flavour

Double vowels “ae” and “oe”

While the British retain the more complex spelling of words with Greek or Latin roots, using the orthodox spelling that was established when those words were brought into the English language as far back as the 14th and 15th centuries, the Americans, as usual, like their terminology simplified.

American English

leukemia

maneuver

estrogen

pediatric

British English

leukaemia

manoeuvre

oestrogen

paediatric

Words ending in a vowel plus –l

While Americans have dropped the double “l” when adding suffixes to verbs that end in the letter “l” the British still generally use the two-”l” approach to their spelling.

American English

traveling

traveled

traveler

fueled

fueling

British English

travelling

travelled

traveller

fuelled

fuelling

The rules can be confusing, especially for people who are learning English as a second language. Which system you choose often depends on where you’re learning English. Obviously, if you’re learning English in the United States, you will be taught that orthography, but if you are learning English in India, you will generally be taught the British spelling. Wherever you are, keep in mind that more often than not, the American spelling of words is a simplified version that is closer to how a word sounds rather how it was spelled in the language it has been borrowed from.

Knowing the spelling rules and differences will help you learn the spelling exceptions, too. For instance, archaeology is a spelling that’s used by English teachers and scientists in both American and British universities. Keep digging around, and you’ll find more exceptions – and that’s a hard and fast rule.


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Yes, People Of All Ages Can Improve Their Spelling Skills


We tend to associate spelling practice with young children who are struggling to understand why the English language is not written like it’s pronounced, but the truth is, a person in any age group can improve – and should improve – their spelling skills.

Spelling bees are not an event reserved for schoolchildren. There are plenty of spelling bee competitions for adults taking place around the globe — proof that spelling is both loved and seen as fun by many people, no matter how old they are.

This summer, the 11th annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee was held in the city of Opelika, Alabama. In this spelling bee competition, teams of spellers competed against each other for a good cause: raising money for the literacy needs of Lee County. Apart from raising money and showing people how they can help the Lee County Literacy Coalition, the spelling bee allowed people to flaunt their spelling skills in a fun and adrenaline-boosting way.

The Opelika Spelling Bee is not the only adult-aimed competition in the United States. Senior spelling bees are also quite popular in many regions. Although not as well known as the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the Senior Spelling Bee allows people over the age 50 to compete against one another in the pursuit of the Senior Spelling Bee Champion title.

This summer the  Senior Spelling Bee competition was held in Knoxville, Tennessee. The champion was an English Professor,  Lauren Matz from Olean, New York.

Ms. Matz had to correctly spell out words such as “sullage,” “iridescence,” and “harmattan” to win the title. An interesting ranking of the 2014 National Senior Spelling Bee is that a couple, David and Nancy Mullard, won the second and third place prizes.

Official and unofficial spelling bee events remind us that spelling is an integral part of everyday communication. Spelling is omnipresent. We understand its importance when our autocorrect messes up our text messages, when our editor flags our misspellings, and when we have trouble spelling a last name that seemed to be so simple to spell when we heard it pronounced.

Improving your spelling can be a fun activity. Don’t think that spelling has to be a boring chore you need to get through quickly. Several spelling games and apps available in software or on line can help you improve on your orthography skills in a way that feels more like play and less like learning.

No matter your age, there’s a game or fun spelling activity you can engage with today, and improve your spelling performance right away. Just think of all the fancy words you’ll be able to spell correctly, and impress everyone!


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