Can You Out-Spell An 11 Year Old?

DanielDaniel Posts: 115 ✭✭

As an adult you could probably beat an 11 year old at most things: a weight-lifting contest, most likely; being old, sadly yes. However, it turns out you might not have the chops to best an 11 year old in a spelling test. 

We conducted a study to see just how good the nation’s spelling really is. Could we spell a plucky 11 year old under the table? 

In order to do this we assembled a group of adults to answer 35 questions all taken from the spelling portion of the Key Stage 2 SAT (standard assessment test) - a test aimed at 10-11 year olds.

The results were suitably hilarious as 11 year olds everywhere cheered in glee as we hobbled around them telling them not to laugh, waving our auto correcting phones in protest to their youthful mirth.

Only two thirds were able to reach a level 4 rating or higher, which is ‘the expected level of attainment’ for a primary school leaver. Less than half reached level 5 and even fewer still (33 per cent) achieved level 6 which is considered ‘outstanding’.

So which words are the worst culprits and make our palms sweaty like armpits on a hot summer's day? Well phenomenon had us perspiring up a storm as only 25% of respondents managed to spell it correctly. For shame!

5 most commonly misspelt words:

  1. Phenomenon (25% correct)
  2. Unnecessary (32% correct)
  3. Disappearance (36% correct)
  4. Correspondent (37% correct)
  5. Synchronised (37% correct)

So why are the whipper-snappers giving us a run for our money in the spelling stakes? Lexicographer countdown mainstay, Susie Dent, believes that autocorrect and spellcheck are making us a nation of terrible spellers.

“It’s disheartening to see that one third (33 per cent) of adults would not reach the expected level for an 11 year old, suggesting that the ability to spell is losing its importance in our daily lives. Modern tools like spellcheck and autocorrect encourage us to switch off from learning, leading to complacency or, at worst, indifference.” 

There is hope, all is not lost; games such as AlphaBetty can have you fighting fit and dropping word-bombs like it aint no thang in no time. Susie Dent, even has some tips to get your spelling muscles back into shape:

"1. It sounds obvious but READING would be my number one suggestion. This can cover almost any media, from newspapers to books. The more you read, the more your spelling will improve.

2. Don’t always rely on your computer spellcheck – try turning it off for a day and challenge yourself to think about the spelling of each word.

3. Never be afraid to consult a dictionary: it’s your best friend!

4. Try understanding the word by breaking it down into smaller parts or syllables - look for prefixes, suffixes, and roots: you'll soon start to see patterns in words that you recognise. There are hidden links too: did you know ‘indict' is related to ‘dictator’, or ‘definitely’ to ‘finish’? Stories like these will help you remember the correct spelling.

5. Make spelling fun by playing word games such as Countdown or AlphaBetty Saga - you can improve your skills, set yourself challenges, and have fun at the same time.

6. Practice does make perfect – make a list of those words you always misspell and repeat them a few times over. You'll soon have them committed to memory.

7. Sometimes saying the word out loud can help - read the word, cover the word up, and then try to write it. Then check, and repeat until you’re spot on."

Why not work on improving your spelling right now? Download AlphaBetty Saga on iOS and Android and show those kids who's boss!

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