7 Ways Handwriting Improves Spelling by Sophia Mest
Why write out a letter when you can send a text message or an email? Why bother penning a grocery list when you can speak the things you need into your phone, which will automatically dictate it for you? Our heavy reliance on technology can actually be harmful, especially when it comes to our spelling. Sometimes, it’s better to learn a task manually – especially when it comes to mastering that task.
1. Handwriting Boosts Kinesthetic Learning
As someone practises/practices(AmE) handwriting, they’re becoming accustomed to the fluid motions designed to craft each letter. Over time, creating these letters becomes an automatic response, much like muscle memory. The more you’ve practised/practiced (AmE) writing, the less you’ll be conscious of the process. This is called automatic handwriting. When you’ve excelled to the level of automatic handwriting, your mind is free to concentrate on proper spelling and grammar.
2. Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Link Together
Handwriting activates the same regions of your brain used in reading comprehension. Practising/Practicing(AmE) your handwriting can strengthen these regions of your brain, making reading easier. Top Tip from How to Spell - have you noticed the more you type the more your handwriting becomes rubbish? That's OK, it's natural. Handwriting is like a sport - it needs to be worked on every day or our handwriting muscles weaken. When we use handwriting, or even typing, we're training our muscle memory to remember the shape and movement of words so eventually spelling will seem to write itself.
3. Handwriting Builds Stronger Associations
Tapping the buttons on a keyboard makes for little association. Everything is in front of you, and you press the button that corresponds with the letter you intend to write next. With handwriting, this are markedly different. If you’re unsure of the proper spelling of a word, you need to consciously think of how to spell that word. Performing a manual action, such as writing, will build a stronger association with this process than an automatic process, such as pressing a button.
4. You’re Forced to do Without Spellcheck
This isn’t something that a lot of people think about, but it counts for so much. When you misspell a word on your tablet or smartphone, it’s probably automatically corrected for you. In most computer programs or web browsers that include spellcheck, the red squiggly line appears under words that are misspelled. Double clicking corrects the problem, and in the end, you never actually learn how to spell the word. Sacrificing your autonomy to technology means you don’t learn anything in the end. You’re free to make the same mistakes over and over again.
5. It May Help Individuals with Dyslexia Overcome Adversities
Individuals with dyslexia have a hard time reading and writing, because their minds find it difficult to string together letters in the proper order. Using print handwriting can actually make this worse, as letters are all separate. Cursive creates longer strings of letters, connected as one common word. It’s easier for individuals with dyslexia to read and write through the memorization of these words as a whole, especially when written in connected cursive.
6. You Can’t Rely on Shortcuts
In informal methods of communication, such as texting, social media posts, or casual emails, many things are abbreviated. Rather than expressing a complete thought, we often replace words with emoticons. This causes our intellectual development to stagnate. When you don’t need to use a longhand form of communication, you don’t. This affects not only your spelling abilities, but also your vocabulary.
7. Cursive Helps Group Letters Together
When writing in cursive, all of the letters are linked together. Entire words written in a single stroke creates strong associations for letters in specific groups. Using cursive handwriting as a method of learning to spell builds stronger associations with common strings of letters, rather than the individual letters themselves. Certain common sounds in words, such as “-tion” and “-ei-“ become embedded, making them easier to commit to memory and use when they’re needed. Top Tip from How to Spell - Write/type in lowercase so you can see and feel the shape of the word. BLOCK CAPITALS are hard to read (use BLOCK CAPS on forms only).
Handwriting may be a dying art, but it’s certainly a necessary art. The automation and informal approaches that technology affords us are contrary to our intellectual development. Handwriting places the right amount of pressure on a learner to help them retain information, and it’s crucial that we use handwriting as often as possible.
Top Tip from How to Spell - when handwriting make sure you use a good pen, make sure it feels good to write with, is the ink flowing, is the weight right or too heavy?
Sophia Mest is a Content Manager at BizDb, where she aspires to put her writing passion into practice and spread her words across the world. She spends her free time travelling and exploring the wonders of nature. Follow her on Twitter @MestSophia