The dictionary is our friend. With the popularity of typing instead of writing, spell-checkers, and gulp, dare I approach, texting, one of our oldest and most reliable friends seems to have fallen by the wayside; or at least been left to the side of the road. The dictionary!
Now even I’m not vouchsafing the monstrously heavy old Unabridged I used to have sitting on the corner of my desk like a ponderous old toad, I’m still talking computer dictionaries. Not sure how a word is spelled? Get as close as possible, highlight that puppy (if your spellchecker hasn’t already attempted to give you alternatives) and look it up!
Another challenge—and opportunity—that presents itself with dictionary use is expansion of your vocabulary. It’s such a temptation when writing along and you’re reminded by your spellchecker that a word you’ve used is spelled incorrectly to just replace that word with a simpler, more prosaic word. Fight the temptation! Stretch your word usage and your writing by exploring new meanings and new words with the use of the dictionary! Synonyms are also a lovely alternative at these spelling junctures. Writing should be a fluid exercise. While there is often the right word, the appropriate word, often as not there can be an alternative that may be even better, an alternate that can move your prose in another direction, a substitution that can spark a new avenue. Play with words when writing and let them work for you.
Teachers of English and grammar, spelling opens up all sorts of possibilities. Have fun with words and encourage your students to stretch their creativity with spelling. See our fun and interactive Spelling/Vocabulary Programs to get your students excited about spelling. Go to www.grammarpunk.com for all the details.