Lesson Transcript

Alisha: Hi, everybody. Welcome back to English Topics. My name is Alisha and today I'm joined by…
Davey: Hi, I'm Davey.
Alisha: Hi, Davey. Today, our topic for discussion is going to be "Tips for Improving your Spelling" in English. So, let's begin. I'll start us off because I think that you have some very interesting technical descriptions. So, I have a few simple rules that maybe are a nice reminder for people watching. My first one is about "countable nouns that end in Y." So, countable nouns that end in "Y," you drop the "Y" in the plural form and add "I-E-S." So, for example, let's see, the word, "pony." "Pony" is a small horse. "Pony," you spell it as P-O-N-Y. If you want to use the plural, "ponies," you drop the "Y" and replace "Y" with "I-E-S." For regular countable nouns, you just add an "S" or maybe an "E-S" but with a "Y" noun, a noun that ends in "Y," you need to change it to an "I-E-S" spelling. So, that's one point that maybe you don't think about when you're speaking but in writing, you need to change the spelling. So, small rule. Okay, so that's my first simple rule. What is your first rule?
Davey: My first rule is, as she said, maybe a little technical but I think it's a very important one is to "know your roots." When I say "roots," I mean root words. And so, this tip, the strategy for learning spelling is--will also work for learning vocabulary, learning English words. A lot of words in English build on smaller, simpler words and those words, those small, simple words are root words. For example, in a word like, "disinformation," it all starts with "form." "Form" is the basic word. And then, you add an "in," you get "inform," you add an "ation," you get information, you add a "dis," "disinformation." But, starting with those root words, that's the smallest first block of more complex words. If you can learn how to spell one root word, it will help you learn how to spell more complex words that also use that root word. So, starting by learning how to spell, memorizing how to spell a lot of simple root words that show up in lots of other more complex words.
Alisha: Absolutely. I think that there are a lot of words like that. Especially, too, you mentioned "dis," the last one that you mentioned there was "dis." Those little prefixes, those short words that begin a longer word… Oop, that's your next. I'll let you talk about that.
Davey: That's my second tip. I'll go two in a row. Yes, they're kind of--I'm cheating a little bit. These tips sort of go together. But, my second tip is to "learn common prefixes and suffixes." So, these are the other building blocks that go on to a root word. So, you have a root word, like "form," you're adding prefixes like "in," for "inform." Adding a suffix that comes at the end of the word, like "ation," "information." I can add another prefix back, "dis," "disinformation," and there. Just because I knew one root word and a few prefixes and suffixes, I could think of four different words.
Alisha: Yeah. And, it's a quick--I mean you can't apply a prefix or a suffix to every single word. But, they can be useful tools. Even if you're not spelling but if you're trying to identify the meaning of a word, it can actually be really useful. If you know the root word and then you see a prefix or a suffix there, you can maybe sometimes guess what the meaning of this new word is. So, take a word like "do." It's a simple word just meaning an action, something you do. But if you use the prefix, "re," meaning to do something again, I think we talked about that in the video once, you get "redo" which means to do something again. Also, you can use the prefix, "un" there, meaning, to take something away or to negate or to remove. You can see this on computers a lot, the go back function is called "undo," the undo function. Anything else I would do? "Undo, redo."
Davey: "Overdo?"
Alisha: "Overdo." That's a good one, yeah. To do too much of something.
Davey: To do too much of something. You can overdo it.
Alisha: Yeah, that's used as a verb as well. Overdo something. Like, "Oh, I overdid at drinking last night," for example.
Davey: But, you can't under do.
Alisha: You cannot under do. Well, grammatically speaking.
Davey: No. Well, we know what we mean.
Alisha: Great. Okay. Onward. I don't remember what--
Davey: Alright. What do you have next?
Alisha: Ah! Okay. So, the next one, what should I say here? More so than necessarily just a way to remember how to spell words, it's a way to think about how you spell words to change the way that people think about you or the way that people perceive your writing. So, I've got here, when writing important messages, "don't use 'text' speak." So, I think, this is, especially, common in maybe modern--I don't know maybe I should say, it's especially common among young people, the tendency to write-- for example, and I see it sometimes in the comments on this section on these videos, people will write, "W-U-D," instead of "W-O-U-L-D," would. So, people are writing these very, very shortened versions that maybe are okay in in text messages or in casual letters or casual messages to your friends but when you're writing something of importance in English, you cannot, well you can, but you absolutely should not use that spelling. So, for example, "BRB" for "be right back." You need to spell out those messages when you're writing to coworkers. So, be really careful with the kinds of spelling that you're applying in different messages because it really makes a difference in how people perceive you and how people think about you. But, I've heard stories, like from high school teachers in the US, for example, who say that some students are now submitting reports with this kind of writing, using this kind of writing and it's just shocking to me. So, don't do that.
Davey: Yeah, my advice even would be to just stop using those simple forms and texts or comments or on Twitter or Facebook or anything even though it saves space or saves time. If you're trying to really learn formal English, even if you're texting, even if you're putting something on Twitter, even if it takes up extra characters on Twitter, use the properly spelled word because every time you use it, you're helping reinforce, you're helping strengthen the habit of that correct spelling. So, you're missing an opportunity for practice when you are using these shortened forms.
Alisha: Absolutely. So, maybe that's something that commenters can even think about. When you write your next comment on one of these videos, try to think about the spelling that you're using. It's an opportunity for you to make correct grammatical decisions, to make correct spelling decisions, as well. So, I think it's an important thing to consider for communication, as well as for your own knowledge. Okay. Are you out?
Davey: I have one more.
Alisha: Okay.
Davey: Alright. So, my last my tip here is related to the advice I was just giving about not missing chances to practice correct spelling and it's "practice with different tokens." When I say, "tokens" here, I mean different forms of similar words or different words that have the same root. So, I gave an example earlier, "form," giving us "inform," "information," "disinformation." Each time you encounter a set of words like this, practice with those different words, practice with different similar words. Practice using them in your speaking, in conversation or discussion with different people, practice them in writing, if you're writing a report for school or you're just using Twitter or Facebook or writing an email or a text to a friend, practice with those different forms. Because, the more you practice, the stronger those good spelling habits will become. The more often you spell a word correctly, the easier it will be to remember it.
Alisha: Yeah, absolutely. The practice is good. Just to be clear for everybody watching, what would you define as a token.
Davey: A token is one form of a word that can show up in other different forms. So, for example, if I'm changing a verb to a noun, if I'm getting from "inform" to "information," that's a different token. So, "inform" would be a verb token or verb form, "information" would be a noun token or a noun form.
Alisha: Okay, so, it's like understanding the different sort of forms or the different ways these words can be represented, these are different tokens.
Davey: Yes, absolutely.
Alisha: Okay.
Davey: So, all of these words are related and but they're spelled differently, they're used differently in grammar and so we need to practice spelling them, practice using them in different ways.
Alisha: Okay, got it, got it. Interesting. Yeah, I agree. Totally agree. Alright. My last tip, again, this is perhaps a writing-centric tip. Again, something to maybe improve how you're perceived or maybe to be able to change the way people understand you is to try "using contracted forms to sound more casual" in your writing. And, the opposite is also true, instead of using the contracted forms of words, use the expanded forms of phrases in more formal writing. So, to give a few examples, a phrase like, "they are" or "I am," if you take the time to spell out those words instead of using the contracted, "I am" for "I'm," or instead of using "they're" for "they are," if you spell out those words, you're going to sound more formal. If you're writing an important letter, like a letter of recommendation, or if you're trying to write a business email, if you're writing a letter to apply for a job, for example, you're going to sound more professional if you use the expanded forms, not the contracted forms of these words. And, the same thing is true in more casual situations. If you're sending your messages to your friends using-- and you don't use the contracted form, you might sound a little too stiff, a little too formal. This also applies to your speech, though, too. So, for example, if I ask my friends like, "How are you doing today?" instead of, "How're you doing today?" I sound more stiff and formal, too. So, really think about when you're using contractions because it can influence how you appear in writing, too. Maybe that's a personal preference of mine but I feel like interactions are good for more casual communication.
Davey: Mm-hmm.
Alisha: Okay, that's my last tip. Do you have any more tips?
Davey: I have no more tips today.
Alisha: Alright. Well, we're out of tips. So, those are a few tips that you can use to improve your spelling and maybe it to improve your writing, in general, as well as to improve how you practice and study writing and study words, as well. So, I'm actually going to think about some of his tips. I think those are really, really good points. Especially about remembering the roots of words, I think that's a really great point.
So, thanks, again, for joining us today, Davey.
Davey: Thanks for having me.
Alisha: And, if you liked this video, please make sure to hit the Like button. If you haven't subscribed to our channel, please, make sure to subscribe to us so you don't miss out on anything else that we post. And, if you'd like to find more information like this, please check us out at EnglishClass101.com. If you have any problems with spelling or if you have a different tip that really helps you with your spelling, please let us know, and try to spell it correctly in the comments below. Thanks very much for watching this episode of English Topics and we'll see you again soon. Bye.
Davey: See you.