You may have heard it before: a teacher flaps their hand nonchalantly in the direction of the class. “Don’t worry. Spelling doesn’t matter,” they say. They smile as a few sighs of relief are exhaled in the background. Maybe one of them was yours. That, or you were confused. Unsettled, even.
Even though the human brain has little issue with reading and understanding misspelled words in most instances, teachers cutting their students slack, while seemingly generous, is the wrong attitude to adopt. Placing less emphasis on correctness lowers the incentive to perform well and in turn, results in a lower output of high quality work. If they do not already, educators should encourage the best of their students at all times and spelling and grammar are no exceptions.
Firstly, the purpose of spelling and grammar is to give language structure, form, and most importantly, to make it make sense for the sake of its users and interpreters. Consequently, correct spelling and grammar make communication clearer and more effective — the primary goal every student should strive for in their writing. Whether within or outside of academia, ensuring clarity while relaying thoughts, ideas, and concepts is of the utmost importance in order to be as efficient as possible and to prevent misunderstandings that might complicate the already intricate nature of language. The most fundamental way to achieve this, apart from choosing your words carefully, is to use correct spelling and grammar.
Furthermore, students and adults alike who use language properly are more likely to be taken seriously and be perceived as being more educated, intelligent, and capable. Through the use of correct spelling and grammar (especially in the digital age where abbreviations and typos or other errors are almost the norm online), they stand out from the majority and demonstrate their competence in spite of the easier but lazier options of negligence and/or indifference. As a result, instructors who make no room for either by insisting on proper spelling and grammar set their students up for success in applications for university, interviews in the workplace, and in every place onwards.
Lastly, the consistent expectation and encouragement of high quality work in the classroom will likely translate into the students’ formation of good habits with regards to their writing in the future. High standards, whether they be focused on spelling, grammar, or other factors, force students to be more thorough and make a conscious effort to ensure fewer mistakes: a mentality that will serve many of them well when developing a work ethic. While teachers should always attempt to be gracious and understanding of their students’ needs, they cannot afford to be lax where the foundations of language and communication are concerned and even more so as communication is one of the largest facets of human interaction. Moreover, the purpose of school is to educate and instructors must remember to follow through, for the sake of fulfilling their role, if not for the benefits of their students and the merits of efficient and intelligent communication.