Survey Gives Insight into Education Gaps of Spell-Check Generation

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22nd June 2012 11:58 - Education

A survey of 2,000 UK adults commissioned by learning disability charity Mencap has shown that the frequent use of computer spell checks and auto-correct functions while writing emails and documents is giving rise to a significant portion of Britons who are unable to manually spell common words.

The study was conducted to mark this week's launch of Mencap’s Spellathon competition, where children and adults are asked to test their spelling.

Surprisingly, 65% of the surveyants failed to spell 'necessary' correctly, while 33% struggled with the words 'definitely' and 'separate'.

Only one in five adults who took part in the study which entailed a short spelling test was able to answer all five questions correctly.

Students were found to be the worst spellers, with only 13% getting all five questions right against 21% overall. It was also discovered that women are generally better at spelling than men, with women aged 65 and over scoring the highest marks.

In addition, the majority of respondents admitted to using computer spell checks and auto-correct functions when writing extensively - 18% claimed to use this type of technology all the time while 21% said they rely on it most of the time.

Despite this, most people polled believe spelling is important and rated themselves as competent spellers - 76% described their abilities as "very good" or "fairly good".

Chief Executive of Mencap, Mark Goldring, commented: "With over two thirds of Britons now having to rely on spell check, we are heading towards an auto-correct generation. This survey has highlighted that many Britons have a false impression about their spelling ability. Today's tough economic climate means that poor spelling on a CV is fatal, as it says that an individual cannot produce work to a given standard, no matter how highly qualified they might be.”

Meanwhile, UK Schools Minister Nick Gibb added: “The failure to test spelling, as well as grammar and punctuation, in exams over the past decade has been a costly one."

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