News Archive - 2013 (2)
The spelling bee is a revered American tradition that is unique to the English language. Other languages, especially romance languages like French, Spanish and Italian, are more rigidly phonetic. If you can speak the words, you can spell them. There are exceptions, but they aren’t numerous enough to warrant a contest - and they are few enough for most people to master.
As part of his agenda to improve primary school education, Michael Gove plans to invest more teaching time in driving up standards of spelling; his proposals include a list of 162 words which all eleven-year old children will be expected to spell correctly. As his critics were quick to point out, Gove’s belief in the importance of accurate spelling was somewhat undermined by a number of misspellings in the White Paper itself; Tristram Hunt gleefully suggested that Gove, “of all people,” should be able to spell bureaucracy. This highlights one of the golden rules of orthography: before you criticise someone else’s spelling, be sure your own is up to scratch.