I remember it well: I was sitting in a 6th-grade science class when the teacher asked me to read a selection from the book, so I began …
All was going well until I reached a word I did not know. It sputtered from my lips with all the confidence of a terrified mouse cornered by a coiled-up cat preparing to pounce.
The classroom erupted with laughter. “Hahahahahahahaha!”
I knew I had made a mistake. “Oh… nu–mo–ne-a,” I corrected myself slowly as the classroom gasped for a second breath to continue its collective gut-busting. “Hahahahahahahaha!”
I was mortified. But I got over it. About 10 years later, I graduated with a degree in journalism and began my professional writing career. And the truth is, I’m still a crummy speller. In fact, the most difficult test to pass in my Journalism 101 course, a so-called weed-out course, was the spelling test. You had to score at least 80% to move on, and you only had two chances, or else you were immediately withdrawn from the course and forced to start over. Let’s just say I got my money’s worth from that test. The other exams on AP Style and word usage were a breeze by comparison.
While these experiences helped me appreciate the importance of spelling as it relates to both reading and writing, I must admit that to this day spelling remains my biggest fundamental weakness as a writer. Thankfully, spellcheck masks my shortcomings.
Whenever I spot a story about spelling, I always take notice, and my mind takes me back to that 6th-grade science class.
That happened recently when I came across this infographic on spelling from the folks at HubSpot. Low and behold, there’s my 6th-grade nemesis staring me in the face in the first example.
Have a funny or embarrassing story about spelling? Please share in the comments below the graphic.