My struggle with reading, writing & spelling
31st March 2016
“Me fail English? That’s unpossible.” – Ralph Wiggum
Note: This was a hard post for me to write. Partly because it’s a very honest post about something I’m embarrassed about. Partly because I’m rubbish at writing.
I suck at English. Yes, it’s my first (and really, only) language but I still suck at it. I’ve struggled with reading, writing and spelling for as long as I can remember.
I have an A grade in GCSE in English Language, but this absolutely no reflection on my English skills. The only reason why I got this grade is because I learned how to impress the examiners. I was taught how to work the system, not how to be good at English Language.
I wanted to talk about my problems with reading, writing and spelling because I know I’m not alone and I know I’m not the only one to feel embarrassed about this.
It’s taken me until the age of 22 to speak out and admit this to people and I do regret not mentioning it when I was in education because I might have got tested for dyslexia or something. But that’s just stubborn old me for you.
When you’re at primary school you are encouraged to read as much as possible at home. I remember that reading to my mum seemed like the biggest chore because I found it difficult and I didn’t enjoy it. My eyes would water and I’d get frustrated with myself for not being able to read the big words.
It would, and still does, take me a very long time to finish a book. The longest book I have ever read was Pete Townshend’s autobiography “Who I Am” and it took me an entire year to read it. Seriously, I got it for Christmas one year and I finished it on Christmas Eve the following year!
Tyrone and I were talking about this recently. I was shocked when he told me that in year 4 (when we were about 8 or 9 years old) he read Jurassic Park. Me? I was reading The Twits by Roald Dahl, and struggling.
English was probably my worst subject at school. In primary school we had to do comprehensions every Monday morning (i.e. read a section of text and answer questions on it to test our understanding of it). By the time everyone had read the entire page, I would be just about finishing the first paragraph.
Then, once we started answering the questions I wouldn’t have a clue because I had lost interest after the first sentence. I’m ashamed to admit I would ask my friends for the answers and then say “Oh yeah, that’s what I’ve got as well” when in reality I didn’t know.
Recently I have tried to up my reading game. I decided that I want to read more of the “classic” stories out there, like To Kill A Mocking Bird, Animal Farm and The Great Gatsby. I’m currently reading The Hobit. Tyrone said when he read it he finished it in a day. I’m still going a month after starting it.
I love to write. I wouldn’t write a blog if I didn’t enjoy writing. But, I do struggle with it.
As a child I would come up with great ideas for stories; characters, plots, locations, etc. But I just couldn’t translate my thoughts into words. I tried, and I’ve look backed at some of these failed stories in recent years, and they are cringe worthy. But they showed me that my writing has improved, even though I haven’t realised it.
Practice makes perfect as they say, and while I may be far from perfect, I do believe that writing three blog posts a week had seriously helped to improve my writing ability from what it once was.
I’m not very good at ordering and structuring my writing, which is one of the reasons I’ve got into a habit of using sub-headings in my blog posts; they help me to focus. And I’m terrible at remembering the correct words for things. So terrible that sometimes I just make words up, mumble it, and hope to god nobody noticed!
My spelling has never been great either, and I’m sure you are all aware of this as a reader of my blog. Not only am I bad at spelling, I’m also terrible at finding mistakes when proof reading my work. In my final year of university I used to text to speech software on my computer as that was the only way I could effectively check my work for mistakes.
I remember having to do a spelling test as a part of our end of primary school tests and I scored 3 out of 20, and that has always stuck with me. I use to have to practice so hard when we were given words to learn to spell at school and nothing filled me more than the dreaded Friday Spelling Test.
Nowadays I don’t tend to write anything by hand so I can rely solely on spell checker to get me through life. Thank goodness.
So, here’s the thing. I’m learning to acknowledge and accept the difficulties I have with English, and talking (and writing!) about it helps.
Being bad at reading, writing and spelling has never, ever held me back. I have 11 GCSEs, 3 A Levels and a first class honours degree after all, and I’m glad that I have been able to find ways to deal with my rubbish language skills.
I’m sorry if my poor spelling and grammar, or my poor ordering of words and sentences offends you and makes you want to steer clear of my blog. I’m trying my best and learning a lot along the way.
Have you ever struggled with reading, writing or spelling?