American spellings or British spellings - are they now interchangeable?

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We’d like to ask teachers their views about whether American spelling is now acceptable in the UK and other countries that have traditionally used British spellings.  I’ve read somewhere that people in the USA are pretty tolerant of British spelling but I’m not sure if the reverse is yet true this side of the Atlantic.

Throughout the Spellzone site we have made sure that we cater for both British and American spelling.   Where there is a difference we give both versions of the word and, if there are many examples, such as word endings colour/color, theatre/ theater (Unit 25), there are separate versions of the word lists and test activities.   Flags alert the user to which is which.

But what should we do if a British Spellzone user types an American spelling in an answer to a test?  Or vice versa?  Do we mark it as wrong? Would it be marked as wrong in your school or college? I know in my schooldays in England it would certainly be regarded as wrong to use American spelling but the world has moved on since then. Today’s students are frequently exposed to American spelling on the Internet, so can they really be blamed for using it in their own writing?

Michael Gove, the UK government’s Education Secretary, has recently announced a policy of ‘back to traditional teaching’, with marks to be deducted in exams for poor spelling.  Do any UK English teachers know what the policy will be if a student uses an American spelling? Will he or she be penalised?

At Spellzone our aim is to help as many learners as possible improve their spelling so we’ll continue to cater for both camps - but we would love to hear your views on the topic.  

06 Dec 2010
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"Thank goodness for Spellzone during this remote learning phase. The site is easy for students to navigate independently and they're really enjoying the activities and spelling games. You get an awful lot for your money with Spellzone. Really reassuring is the very prompt response with helpdesk queries. I've very rarely needed the helpdesk, but when I have, the issue has been addressed and sorted within a very short time."

Sarah Taggart, Oasis Academy Lord's Hill