Why is it important to practice spelling English words correctly for ESL learners?

Why is it important to practice spelling English words correctly for ESL (English as a Second Language) learners? With so much technology that can do word corrections automatically for us when we type, will we ever need to learn how to spell words with a pen or pencil anymore? Also, as schools nowadays use the Ipad for student’s homework and even allow students to use laptops during lessons to do classwork, it seems as though it is rendering the learning of English spelling and handwriting useless. So the question is, is there a need to learn how to spell English words with a pen or pencil anymore?

If I started off by saying that “Studies have shown that people with strong spelling skills have better cognition.” or “It has been shown that people with stronger spelling skills are smarter.”, you would probably think that I’m explaining nothing of my own and just copied and pasted the information here from somewhere on the internet. So if I use the analogy of spelling words with a keyboard instead of a pen or pencil is like using a fork compared to using chopsticks for a meal, wouldn’t you think it is so much more vivid? In other words, a person who only knows how to use a fork could be missing out on many things that the person with the chopsticks has. For example, you can have much more control and be able to grab food gently without pinching through them, you can widen your chopsticks for grabbing or delivering much more food into your mouth, you can use the chopsticks like a pair of scissors to cut food into half or proportions, and so much more!

However, since we have transitioned into the Information era, most people now prefer a keyboard instead of a real pen or pencil because the former is just so much more convenient than the latter. With the back button on our keyboard, we can undo things that we’ve written and don’t need an eraser. Or with just the click of a button, we can erase everything on our screen without throwing away paper and being unenvironmentally friendly. So what is the use of stationery anymore? Should we throw them into trash after we graduate from school? While ‘yes’ is most likely the answer in everyone’s minds, I would actually say ‘no’.

So how is the pen or pencil better than a keyboard? The keyboard may be convenient, but it is actually very limited compared to the pen or pencil. With a stroke of the pen or pencil, you can write each and every letter of an English word in any shape and style that you like, but also the way you write each and every word can tell something about your soul, spirit, and character – the living, breathing being inside of you. As you keep on practicing writing with the pen or pencil, you may even find that the spelling of words is more like an art to be appreciated than it is chore, as opposed to using the keyboard that can only jot down words for you in a mechanical way, without transferring a slight imprint of your soul and spirit. Practice writing passages even – you may even begin to realize that there is much more real knowledge to search for in your brain with the pen or pencil than with the keyboard and the computer, or even the internet.

Why is English writing so difficult for ESL learners?

Why is English writing so difficult for ESL (English as a Second Language) learners? For most of us who come from a local background or studied under the Hong Kong education system, we have probably always wanted to avoid taking subjects where you have to do writing tasks, such as English and humanities subjects. When it came to choosing subjects for our senior years in high school, we would also choose Math and science subjects rather than the language and humanities subjects. So the question is, why is it that we tend to think that we can pride ourselves in Math and science subjects to the extent that we can completely forget about other subjects?

As a person who had switched from a bachelor’s degree in Engineering to a bachelor’s degree in Translation at university, it seems as though the most attractive reason for choosing Math and science subjects was that they could easily earn you the highest marks to get into a decent university. After I had gotten a decent grade for my GCSE English at year 11, I thought that I could totally abandon English and humanities subjects altogether, in order to focus on the Math and science subjects that I’d chosen for my A Levels. But as I look back now, I kind of regret. Why is that? Since I’ve started working in the real world, I’ve learnt even if you have a lot of knowledge, language and presentation skills seem to be the foremost thing that companies look at when deciding whether they would hire you. Even though those years at high school only constituted a small part of my life, the subjects that I chose nonetheless shaped who I have become today, and I wish that I could have chosen another foreign language or humanities subject to broaden my horizons.

But the question is, even if we now know that writing skills are useful, why do we still want to skip it? Whenever we get a writing task, it seems so easy for us to procrastinate and not know how to start. It seems as though it is impossible to score all the marks, unlike for Math and science subjects where you can memorise facts and find past papers for model answers to learn from. But for English writing exams? It is just incredibly difficult to find any past papers with model answers! There are marking schemes and criteria, but it seems as though there are no structures of model answers to follow. Hence, if we don’t pay enough attention to the teacher in class, it can just be so difficult to revise when the exam comes, and therefore we would rather not choose such a subject.

However, the crux of the matter is that from the perspective of a person learning English as a second language, it is just so difficult to write in English because to begin with, we do not even have an adequate English-speaking environment at school. The real problem is that our teachers may have only taught us how to write, but not tell us why we should do it! Even when we have been taught the rules and techniques in writing, such as starting each paragraph with a topic sentence, it still seems incredibly difficult because writing seems to be more than just knowledge, as there is also the art of structuring your ideas in order to deliver them well to your target audience. So whatever ideas we put onto a piece of paper, they also have to flow smoothly from one idea to the next in a logical manner.

But have we completely forgotten about what knowledge actually is? It is like trying to convince a friend why you prefer or prefer not to watch a movie, not just because the box office figures can tell you a lot or the movie critics have a certain opinion. Or it can be like trying to predict the result of a science experiment with just book knowledge and not being aware of the environment that could affect the result in the real world. So without the words to communicate what we know, we may never be able to analyze our knowledge to the greatest extent in order to put knowledge into practical use effectively. Otherwise, we would be no different than a computer whose job is just to present information. But in any case, it is now time for us to think about who we are as homosapiens (a.k.a the thinking being, or wise man in Latin), especially now that we are living in a technological world where artificial intelligence is becoming more and more powerful…