Unit 1: Guide to the Spellzone Course

Why learn to spell? We've got spell-checkers!

Do I really need to bother with correct spelling when there's a computer spell-checker to help me? Surely it will do all the work for me?

Don't you believe it!

There are thousands of words which will fool the computer.


Look at these examples:

1. In English there are many words which sound exactly the same but have different spellings for different meanings for example:

I don't eat meat Pleased to meet you.

These words are called homophones from the Greek words;
homo: the same and phonos: sound.

Some more examples:

site/sight
deer/dear
new/knew
peace/piece
principal/principle

2. Some words sound nearly the same. For example:

I accept your apology. I'll eat anything except bananas.

3. The wrong spelling may make another real word. For example:

Do you know what time the film starts? No, sorry, I don't now.

In all three examples above, a spell-checker would not help. If you use the wrong spelling, the computer would not spot your mistake.

4. Even with words which are not homophones, you must be able to get the word nearly right - or the spell-checker cannot help.  For example,

A student was trying to spell the word anxious.

    (Click on the ear to hear the word)

She tried: Result:
angshus the spell-checker suggested anguish
ancshus the spell-checker had no suggestions
Rule breakers - English spelling online course The Spellzone course teaches common word endings such as -cious, -tious and then follows this up by teaching any 'Rule-breakers'.
Click here to go to a page with a Rule Breakers section.
5. Most of us need to write in longhand sometimes and a computer spell-checker is no use then. For example:
  • notes to colleagues or family
  • shopping lists
  • helping our children with homework
  • some tests and exams


A last word on spell checkers:
The computer would not spot any of the mistakes in this poem. How many can you spot?

word lists   word lists
 

AN OWED TO THE SPELL CHEQUER

(CANDIDATE FOR A PULLET SURPRISE)
by Dr Jerrold H. Zar of Northern Illinois University

Reproduced by kind permission of The Journal of Irreproducible Results

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your shore reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it's weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

...............................and there are 7 more verses like this.

To read the rest of the poem, click here

 
word lists   word lists

There are 25 mistakes in the title and the first two verses of this poem - but as they are all real words, the computer spell-checker would not spot them. The author says his complete poem has 225 words, 127 of which are wrong but would not be picked out by a spell checker.

The Spellzone course pays special attention to words the computer spell-checker would not spot:

  • We tell you the meaning of each word, with an example of its use.
  • There are 'Learning Tips' to help you remember which word is which.
  • The teaching pages are followed by extra practice tests, so you can check your memory.

See more samples of homophones, with learning tips.

Try one type of homophones test from free unit 13H

Try a different type of homophones test from free unit 13H

After the full Spellzone course, you may well be better at spelling than the computer!


Free spelling course units

There are six free spelling units which are free to all users:

Entry to the rest of the spelling course is by subscription, at a very low cost


For further information on any of these topics, please click on the link:

Spelling and Dyslexia

Spelling as part of an English language course

Is Spellzone suitable for children?

British v. American spelling

Notes for teachers and tutors


next part of the spelling course

Go to the next Unit: Learning Tips to help improve your spelling.

Find out how to get the full Spellzone course - around 450 web pages of teaching tips and practice exercises.

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