The upcoming Scripps National Spelling Bee is a reminder for the nation to improve its vocabulary

In Opinion
An illustration of two boys. One is saying "Congratulations on you're spelling–." The other one has a crown on with the words "Spelling Bee Champion" on it and is slapping him saying "It's spelled YOUR!"

It’s time to take a page from elementary school kids who are winning their regional competitions in hopes of participating in Scripps National Spelling Bee in May, and learn how to be decent, confident spellers. Instead of accepting poor spelling abilities, people need to make small efforts to try and improve.

Believe it or not, many states in the U.S. look up the spelling of words that seem to be common sense. For instance, California’s most looked up spelling is of the word beautiful, according to a tweet from Google Trends in celebration of the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Sure, people look up silly things, but to look up a nine letter word that even a third grader can spell is a little much. With commonly used words and phrases, the occasional mess up from writing too fast is permissible but it shouldn’t have to be a constant struggle.

On the side of sympathy, the English language isn’t the easiest to learn, especially if it’s a second language, so many may struggle at first.

Part of the reason why spelling is so frustrating is because the pronunciation of a word isn’t always the same as how it’s written out. Hence, saying the word out loud won’t help determine anything, but might make people self-conscious and incredibly embarrassed.

Being a perfect speller isn’t the end all be all, but being a bad one isn’t something to just accept. Adults, particularly any who had to look up how to spell angel shouldn’t just laugh it off and blame it on a perceived poor writing ability that won’t get better.

Even the worst of spellers can improve. By learning root words, suffixes and prefixes, people can start to deconstruct commonly used words. Once people can determine the meaning of words they already know and can spell, new words become easier to learn. All people have to do is embrace their mistakes and take the time to improve.

Finding time to read also helps. Even though it may sound like a challenge, reading any material daily — news articles, novels, even subtitles from television episodes and movies — gives words a familiarity that can jog memory or develop a vast vocabulary.

Countless articles in The Atlantic, The New Yorker and The Telegraph, have referenced how people have become careless and rushed in their writing due to technology. Rather than support those who believe in the current demise of writing, it’s better to prove them wrong by using technology to help people become better spellers.

Spell-check can be used as a helpful guideline or tool, particularly when in a rush, but it also contributes to the problem as people often become dependent on it.

Better spelling isn’t just a matter of improving for papers or paperwork, it also restores a sense of self-confidence and sophistication in one’s writing. People shouldn’t have to feel like they are ridiculous for spending time learning how words need to be written out, particularly if it’s a word that’s commonly used and frequently misspelled.

No one has to be perfect enough to be able to vocally recite uncommon and rarely used words like “floccinaucinihilipilification,” when its equivalent word valueless would be far less snobbish and better understood.

Spelling isn’t just a matter of knowing how to write out every word, but if people could make more of an effort (or perhaps pick up some better habits if they’re having difficulty) they would have the confidence necessary to not feel like a sixth grader is acheiving an impossible feat by spelling the word beautiful.

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