Archive for the ‘Spelling’ Category

Reading Into It

Posted on September 7th, 2013by Melanie
In Spelling, Words, Writing | Leave a Comment »

French directionsWhen we think of learning languages, we tend to mean speaking them, getting to know the basics first so that we can ‘get by’ with the little that we know, then gradually increasing our knowledge until we eventually reach a point of fluency. When people look enviously at others and say that they wished they could speak another language like that, or have the ability to switch effortlessly between two languages, they are ultimately referring to the ability to speak the language.

However, learning languages doesn´t just involve speech. It goes without saying that you also have to be able to listen to and understand it when it´s being spoken to you, but the ability to read and write it mustn´t be forgotten or dismissed.

When travelling abroad, a basic knowledge of the language is helpful for simple tasks, such as reading shop signs, understanding menus when you´re ordering food in restaurants,  being able to follow road signs and directions, and understanding how to buy and validate a ticket for the correct route at a train station. These are just some of the everyday things we deal with without thinking, but being able to read and understand the basics can go a long way in a foreign country.

Students often find the reading and writing aspects of learning languages daunting, but with the right teacher and the correct tuition, there really is no need to be worried. Once you´ve grasped the basics, you´ll find that the words will just logically fall into place. So take the plunge and enrol in some language classes; you´ll be word perfect before you know it!

Back to School (Part 2)

Posted on July 14th, 2013by Melanie
In English, Grammar, Spelling | Leave a Comment »

Back to school 5Critics of the new national curriculum scheduled to begin in primary and some secondary schools in September 2014 say that it is too soon, that no one is prepared enough yet, and that it will cause chaos where schools and their teachers are not ready. Advocates of the changes state they are glad that the national curriculum is finally being given an overhaul which will put the UK back on track with the rest of Europe. The proposed changes will be taught to children aged between 5 and 14 years old, but secondary schools can opt out if they wish.

But what implications do these changes hold? Teachers have been used to teaching the set curriculum for years with little need for in-depth teaching. Many now have no choice but to go back to school themselves in order to revise the subjects before attempting to teach them to the children.

Among the subjects being given an overhaul is English, with a new focus on grammar, spelling and vocabulary. Rigorous spelling lists will be given to children in various age groups. It will be expected of children between the ages of 11 and 14 years old to have learned at least two Shakespeare plays. Younger children won´t get off lightly either as seven-year-olds will be taught about adverbs, conjunctions, subordinate clauses and prepositions while eight-year-olds will learn about fronted adverbials. Nine-year-olds will find out the uses of modal verbs and relative clauses and ten-year-olds will study using the subjunctive form of verbs as well as the relationship between subject and object, active and passive. Does this all sound like double Dutch to you?

To make sense of it all, take some refresher English courses in Leicester or a city near you to gain a better understanding of the complexities of the English language.

Back to School (Part 1)

Posted on July 10th, 2013by Melanie
In Education, German, Spelling | Leave a Comment »

It´s not just pupils who have to study hard, revise and do homework. Teachers are having to go back to school too!

Back to school 2The government has set the wheels in motion for a new school curriculum to be put in place, with a starting date of September 2014. Following a decline in the level of teaching standards relating to the national curriculum, the government is looking to give it a complete overhaul to reverse the fallen standards of the last decade.

Current subjects will be improved no end to include more detail and more challenging aspects for the children, and these will be taught to children at a much younger age. For example, maths will have a greater emphasis on longer division, mental arithmetic and fractions, whilst English lessons will include harder spelling and will focus more on grammar. New subjects will be introduced such as climate change and computer programming. It will be compulsory for schools to teach children as young as 5 years old a foreign language.

For teachers, these new lessons can be a very daunting prospect, particularly the latter one of teaching a foreign language. Knowing a foreign language doesn´t necessarily mean having the confidence to teach it to others, and some teachers may just be out of practice as far as languages are concerned due to a previous lack of necessity in a primary school environment. Some schools may not currently offer foreign language lessons to their pupils so are not yet in a position to cater to these new demands. However, there is time to prepare. The details of the new national curriculum are set to be finalised this autumn, giving schools and teachers a year to make provisions for the changes.

If, like the teachers, you feel the need to brush up on your foreign language skills, why not start with some German lessons in Nottingham to get ready for the future.

English language blogs

Posted on July 31st, 2010by Michelle
In English, Grammar, Spelling, Words | Leave a Comment »

I think it’s a given that this blog loves languages. And being a lover of languages, I love reading blogs about languages.

Over at the Mental Floss blog, Miss Cellania has complied a list of some great blogs dedicated to the English language. I particularly enjoy blogs that point out the many mistakes people make (Apostrophe Abuse is a great example), but if you prefer to celebrate language instead, there’s a few links for you too.

Mental Floss invites you to share more blogs in the comments, and so do I!

Signs of (mis)spelling

Posted on August 11th, 2009by Michelle
In English, Spelling, Words | Leave a Comment »

ComunicationsThe Epsom Guardian has become the latest illustrious newspaper to highlight the inadequacy of the Great British Public’s spelling abilities.

In the story, some locals are not amused by mistakes made on a sign put up by a contractor.

They’re not alone – this article from The Times pokes fun at poor spellers across the globe, and there is a photo group set up to highlight spelling deficiencies.

Is it possible the recent Spelling Bee is galvanising people into action against misspelling?

(Side note: there’s a joker at the Epsom Guardian web HQ – check out the name of the link to the story…)

British Spelling Winners

Posted on July 2nd, 2009by Michelle
In Education, Events, Spelling, Words | 1 Comment »

The Times Spelling Bee WinnersThe first big spelling contest in the UK has been decided. A talented trio from St Martin’s School in Middlesex beat teams from all over the country to take the title of The Times Spelling Bee Champions 2009 at the Grand Final in London on June 23rd.

So what kind of word challenges did the winners face? Well, in the quick fire round (the team had to spell as many words in 2 minutes as they could), they spelled contemporaneous and rehearsal in seconds, no pause for thought. From the highlights I’ve seen, that’s what made the St Martin’s team winners – not only could they spell the words correctly, they could spell them quickly.

Other competitors were tripped up by words such as troglodyte and pterodactyl.

Compared to the Scripps Spelling Bee (the major American competition) however, it seems the British have a ways to go. Perusing the sample word list for The Times competition, I can’t say there are any words I haven’t seen before, compared with the final of the Scripps, which threw up zingers like schizaffin. Any kid who can spell that, let alone know the definition definitely deserves a prize. Let’s hope The Times Spelling Bee continues on to become as successful (and difficult!) as the Scripps.


Posted on May 4th, 2009by Michelle
In Spelling, UK vs US English, Words | 1 Comment »

It’s easy to get confused with inquire and enquire. They both mean the same thing: to seek information about something or to conduct a formal investigation. But which is which?
Inquire within
The difference between these two is particularly hard to distinguish. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘enquire’ is “to be used for general senses of ‘ask’”. ‘Inquire’, however, is used for when the meaning is more “to make a formal investigation”. The dictionary experts also note that enquire is more common in British English, whilst inquire is more commonly seen in American English. However, a notable exception in British English is that a formal investigation (e.g. by the police) is always an inquiry.

It’s no wonder then that this sign niggled at me. I saw it in Melbourne, Australia, where British English is more common than American. According to the rules above though, they were technically correct!

And some further examples?

You may enquire about a person’s health.
I inquired about the incident last night.

Inquire/enquire can also be a noun – inquiry or enquiry. Thus:

The police were conducting an inquiry.
My friend made an enquiry about my health.

Spelling Bee

Posted on April 30th, 2009by Michelle
In English, Spelling, Words | Leave a Comment »

Spelling BeeI’m a stickler for correct spellings, so I’m pleased to see that in the UK, one of the major newspapers is running a spelling bee.

Although I’m still recovering from losing a spelling contest at school after missing an ‘s’ out of Mississippi, I can now confidently spell the word correctly at all times. Spelling is an important part of communicating, and whilst sometimes it’s a frustrating part of learning the English language (or any other language for that matter!), correct spelling is the standard for business communications.

The term “spelling bee” is an American one, and spelling competitions apparently are only regularly used in the English-speaking world. There’s a great documentary about spelling bees in the US, Spellbound , which throws up some amazing words I’d never even heard of (although could still possibly spell).

Sadly it appears that The Times spelling bee is only open to schools at the moment, but I’m sure it can’t be too long until a TV producer picks up on the idea and turns it in to a show for adults! Until then, you can play along online.