Spellcheck generation 'failing to understand simple words'
Pupils are unable to differentiate between words like "their" and "there" or "cloths" and "clothes" amid confusion over the English language, a study has claimed.
The Oxford University Press found that primary and secondary school kids were increasingly encouraged to look up complex words using dictionaries and electronic spellcheckers, the Telegraph reported.
An analysis of more than 33 million words written down the by pupils aged 7- 13 found that they regularly found the correct spelling for terms like "pterodactyl" and "archaeologist" but failed when presented with more common words.
In many cases, the children failed to pick out silent letters or the difference between a single or double letter in words like "disappeared" or "tomorrow."
The top spelling error was in the word "accidentally," which was followed by "practising," "frantically," "definitely," and "believe," it was revealed.
Other common misspelled words included "surprise," "excitement," "weird," "doesn't" and "minute."
The research comes after the introduction of a new spelling test conducted by the Government.
For the first time this year, all 6-year-olds have been given a new assessment using phonics - the back-to-basics spelling method, which breaks words down into individual sounds.
But the OUP suggested that kids were still being left confused by more unusual spellings in common words.
"Children are keen and motivated to spell well, and it is pleasing to know that they probably look words up that are technical or more complex," Vineeta Gupta, head of children's dictionaries at the OUP, said.
"At the same time, children are still struggling with simple and everyday words.
"Spellcheckers can be useful but may not provide all the support a child needs to distinguish confusables such as their/there and cloths/clothes. These findings are fascinating and give us an opportunity to target the areas children need more support in," she said.
Researchers analysed students spelling skills using the Oxford Children's Corpus - a database containing the authentic written work of almost 75,000 children.