blue, orange, and black letters on graphic that say “WITF’S Central PA Spelling Bee”

Source: WITF Spelling Bee 2010, Artman1122, Flickr

photo of one head of green broccoli

Source: Broccoli doesn’t grow on trees you know, Darwin Bell, Flickr

In Accomodating Brocoli in the Cemetary, writer Vivian Cook claims that “six out of 10 15-year-olds can’t write 10 lines without making at least one spelling mistake.” You don’t have to be one of those kids who can’t spell broccoli. Proofread everything you write using your spell-checker and your online dictionary and proofread your classmates’ essays with the same tools.

For practice, read the poem “Under the Spell of English” by Arthur Bennett to assess your improved awareness of spelling. Bennett’s poem uses a "what-if" rhyme scheme. The word at the end of the first line models a spelling pattern that the poet uses consistently in each stanza. For instance, the first line of the first stanza ends with “heir.” The second line is “With never a worry and a care.” Bennett uses his poetic license to spell it “ceir.” Now test your “metal” or “mettle” by supplying the correct spelling for the selected words in “Under the Spell of English.”

Reading aloud is always helpful when you are proofreading, so if it’s possible, read this poem aloud. When you finish, correct each selected word using context clues and your knowledge of spelling patterns. Drag and drop letters into the boxes provided below to spell the word correctly.

Under the SPELL of English

Would you like to be Carnegie’s heir,
With never a worry or ceir?
That most of us would is well understould.
One who would not would surely be reir.

When one makes a hole in eight
It’s a very sad story to releight
Bad work with the putter and he will mutter
"I’ll correct that at some leighter deight."

Once there was an infantry colonel
Who fought where the blitz was infolonel
Want to know the result? You’d better consult
The obituary writ in the Jolonel.

The groom advanced down the aisle
With a smaisle he thought to begaisle
The crowd into thinking he wasn’t shrinking
But was scared to death all the whaisle.

A poem is writ word by word;
May be lofty, or may be absord,
May picture the sea, or a bord wild and frea,
Or tell of hope long deford.

If a fellow is a regular guy
He’ll aim for marks way up huy
He’ll push to the top of the hill, with a will
Never pausing to loiter or suy.

Kayak and Seabiscuit raced
They were urged to move and make haced
But for humans to hurry, speed up or, worry
Would be breaking the rules of good taced,

What causes a horsie to neigh,
And what causes a donkey to breigh?
Is it because of their diet they shatter our quiet
Or for pride in their vocal displeigh?

To fly a plane over the ocean
Is possibly not a bad nocean.
Such a perilous flight will turn out all right
If you are able to keep up the mocean.

Look back at the deeds you have done,
Tale stock of your griefs and your fone.
Can you really feel pride and frankly decide
You approve of the race you have rone?

Interactive Icon

Adobe Flash Logo To experience this interactive exercise, you need to Update Adobe Flash Player.
This exercise is a drag and drop, matching activity where the user would match the following connotations with the correct denotation.

The words “skills” spelled using fancy letters

Source: Skills fullogo, Skillsdj, Wikimedia Commons

Poor spelling can even prevent you from getting a job. “Crummy spelling is more noticeable than crummy anything else” on a résumé, according to one expert. Another expert, Melanie Holmes, vice president of the Milwaukee-based Manpower Group that hires at least three million people a year in 82 countries, says, “There might be tons and tons of people sending résumés for one position, and if I need a way to weed out candidates, a misspelling will do.”

It will be a few years before your résumé matters, but hopefully by then you’ll have good proofreading habits. Many part-time and summer job applications require good spelling, though, so if you want to make a good impression, you will need to take proofreading and spelling seriously.