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The Truth About Mrs. X
why it cost one of our employees her job.
Yes we fired her.
We were totally brutal about it and had to be.
She compromised our professionalism…
But before I tell you exactly what happened a brief introduction is needed about why English spelling is so important.
(And she may read this, so for the purposes of not publicly identifying her we’ll call her Mrs. X).
It’s a fact, people DO judge your level of education based on how well you write.
Read that line above again!
It’s human nature. It’s the psychology of the mind.
This switch in your mind happens very quickly. Almost instantly.
Just think about it…How many times has it happened to you that you receive an email or whatsapp message from a friend or colleague and it has one or several spelling mistakes in it…and you automatically think, either consciously or subconsciously “Oh man…He wasn’t taught English correctly, or he’s not very smart, probably because he didn’t go to a good school etc”?
Don’t know about you but I go through this thought process quite regularly…
And if you say you don’t, then you’re not fooling me or anyone else, you’re only kidding yourself!
And to be honest, this is actually a ridiculous way of thinking.
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch by the Lngiusiitc Dptanmeret at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
Translation: According to research by the Linguistic Department at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole.
There is one spelling mistake in this document, can you find it? Leave your answer in the comment below.
So you could still read it, right?
So what’s the difference if there’s a letter missing or one too many?
What about this:
Could you please give me some advise?
So what’s wrong with the sentence above?
Well the word advise=verb
The word advice=noun
The sentence above in blue is incorrect English and it should be ‘advice’ with a ‘C’
This is precisely the word that cost Mrs. X her job.
Small difference between one letter, eh?
Yes indeed. But this cost Mrs. X potentially thousands of €€€ for her future.
So if there are obvious stupid unforgiveable mistakes…then WATCH OUT!
People WILL JUDGE YOU AS BEING POORLY EDUCATED AND POSSIBLY EVEN LAZY!
And this is not only true of the English language…It is true in your own language too.
It is universally true.
Write with mistakes = people think you were poorly educated
Write with mistakes = people think you didn’t have a very intellectual upbringing
Write with mistakes =even worse, people think you’re a DUMB ASS.
The above doesn’t include people with dyslexia 😉
Don’t believe me?
Well here goes this is what happened…
This is why we had to give Mrs. X the sack!
So as an English language School we constantly have to create fresh new content for our clients, customers and students.And the people that write this content are often known as ‘content creators’ or ‘content writers’.
We also have a great deal of students who need written corrections that we have to do every week.
People who correct this kind of work are called ‘copy editors’.
It’s a huge amount of work to say the least but we’re in the business of educating people.
And we educate them in the field of English language training.
So it is absolutely paramount (very important) that the material we correct and create is perfect in terms of English spelling. Otherwise we’d be teaching people incorrectly.
And I don’t know of any English School that goes out of their way to teach their students how to write incorrectly!!!
So we hired Mrs. X for both tasks: content creation and copy editing.
We hired her as she interviewed well and proved herself to be native, accurate and professional.
We were completely WRONG!
(In hindsight we realise we didn’t put her through enough testing to find out these issues sooner. We have since refined this process, phew!)…
Anyhow, so she started working for us the very next week and we very quickly noticed that her accuracy was nowhere near the level that she demonstrated at the interview.
To this day we still don’t know if that’s because Mrs. X didn’t care, or if she worked to quickly… we just don’t know as she never even told us in person.
Clients and students started calling us and emailing us with questions about some of the work that Mrs. X had done. They were confused as she made some really BAD ELEMENTARY mistakes.
She started correcting texts with WRONG spelling which was OUTRAGEOUS and unforgiveable.
I’m talking about students whose future depended on passing their Cambridge English Exams or clients who needed their motivation letters in English corrected.
So what should we have done?
(Man I’m angry now thinking back to this time…)
Well the first thing we did was get a sample of 20 corrections she did from clients and students and took a look at her work.
SHAMEFUL. UNFORGIVABLE. INEXCUSABLE. UNACCEPTABLE.
I mean, she wrote things like:
truely instead of truly
accomodate instead of accommodate
alot instead of a lot
Seperate instead of separate
And definately instead of definitely (THIS IS THE MOST MISSPELT English WORD according to a survey done by Onepoll: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/5538890/Definitely-is-most-commonly-misspelt-word.html)
So we were left with only one choice.
We fired Mrs. X quicker than you can say Jack Robinson.
Spelling is not an area that can be learned overnight.
Incorrect spelling is unforgiveable.
She begged and pleaded for a second chance but we said a BIG FAT NO!
It’s sometimes ok to break spelling rules but not in this case.
Were we wrong or did we do the right thing?
What do you think?
You can take a look at the list below of commonly misspelt words, they are spelled correctly below:
So the moral of the story about Mrs. X? Well, Microsoft Word invented ‘Spell Check’ for a reason. Because the majority of people nowadays type on a computer rather than with pen and paper it is crucial that you understand this again. We know that not everyone in the world is a fantastic speller. We also know that not everyone will go to a dictionary to look up a word. But people WILL JUDGE YOU and your level of English if you make spelling mistakes.
Read that last sentence again.
So it doesn’t matter if you’re writing informal or formal English, working at an international company, writing a motivation letter for a new English speaking job, your English CV, your Linkedin profile in English…you’ve got to get this right or else you may be missing out BIG TIME on potential opportunities like Mrs. X
All you have to do is run a quick spell check before you hit the send button and you’re good to go.
P.S. Spell check will not find this mistake!
P.P.S. It has nothing to do with the difference between British or American spelling either!!
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