Submitted by sarah4  •  March 18, 2008

Spelling with mixed cases

I recently gave a class of six year olds a spelling test and saw that many of the children were spelling words with the correct letters but had used capital letters at the beginning, middle or end of a word. Is a word that has the correct letters but some of them are in capitals still considered to be correctly spelled?

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I expected lots of other people to weigh in. I was wrong.

Given their age, I say the spelling is correct and the distinction between upper and lower case is not completely clear to them yet. I teach ESL to adults and I hammer them on correct use of case, but 6-year-olds? Having the corrent letters planted in the brain is just way more important, IMHO.

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I agree with Janet, that when learning to spell, read, and write, getting the letters in the correct order is the first priority! However, I don't believe that a word with incorrect capitalization is spelled correctly.

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In a spelling bee, there is no capitalization or lack thereof. Does that mean that it's impossible to spell a word orally? of course not!

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when i was little and we did that we were given half marks and i only did it once after. That 50p every time i got all right was amazing when i was 6 years old

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Yes, half marks might be a good idea.

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While I didn't exactly do an exhaustive study, I believe that grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are separate and independent conventions of English usage. Thus, a word that is capitalized incorrectly is not spelled incorrectly (and incorrect spelling does not constitute bad grammar, etc.). Now, incorrect capitalization is still wrong, it just isn't misspelling.

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I don't agree with the notion of "half-marking." I believe that assessment, authentic assessment anyway, should focus on the instructional criteria. If your lesson didn't have a component that dealt with capitalization, specifically, then you should focus on spelling only.
I agree fully with those previous postings in that spelling and capitalization are two completely different aspects of usage. Susan, if you don't believe that a word associated with improper capitalization is spelled correctly, you should invest in a good dictionary.

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"I recently gave a class of six year olds a spelling test and saw that many of the children were spelling words with the correct letters but had used capital letters at the beginning, middle or end of a word."

Bless their little hearts for demonstrating some spontaneous creativity and fun.

Don't worry, a few more years of school and they'll have that knocked out them.

Then they'll be just as correct, boring and tedious as the rest of us.

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If they're normal English words, capitalization shouldn't affect the meaning. You should think about what the ultimate goals of spelling lessons are, and whether they are affected by capitalization.

"While I didn't exactly do an exhaustive study, I believe that grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are separate and independent conventions of English usage."

Different, but not separate. After all, spelling, capitalization, punctuation and pronunciations are all ways in which grammar is expressed. For instance, people with a firm grasp of English will communicate whether they are using “subject” as a noun or a verb through their pronunciation. Spelling distinguishes “scene” and “seen”. Capitalization distinguishes “Spelling” from “spelling”. “Its” and “it’s” are quite different words. Furthermore, when, as in the previous example, punctuation appears within a word, it is arguably within the purview of spelling. Capitalization can significantly affect how a word is understood; compare UnIonized to UnionIzed. Whether a clause is restrictive or nonrestrictive can completely change the meaning of a sentence, and while this is a grammatical issue, it is communicated through punctuation.

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You people are a sorry bunch! We're talking about a class of 6 year olds who have just learned to write. Get over yourselves, and get a life.

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The style of writing is very familiar . Did you write guest posts for other blogs?
p.s. Year One is already on the Internet and you can watch it for free.

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<i>You people are a sorry bunch! We're talking about a class of 6 year olds who have just learned to write. Get over yourselves, and get a life.</i>

Ah yes, heaven forfend that a teacher should actually make an effort to find out do her job better, or that anyone else should try to help. Why, the next thing you know, kids might actually be <i>learning</i> things in school!

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In talking with my daughter who was studying Japanese, I learned that the English language has four alphabets. I was telling her how confusing I found the three alphabets in Japanese when she hit me with that. Of course, I demanded an explanation. She pointed out that there was lower case printed, upper case printed, lower case script, upper case script. There are unique letters in each. Wow! She's right. I have heard, btw, that script is not being emphasized so much any more because of computers. Everyone needs to know the printed alphabets, but not so much the script.

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