The Tutor Crowd: A Great Spelling Campaign

Some graffiti artists, while being rather talented creatively, fall a bit short when it comes to spelling. Online spell checker tools or your average website spell checker would attest to this if one attempted to analyse the colourful copy that adorns many of London’s buildings. But there’s one company which is trying to take advantage of all the misspellings, with a very clever marketing initiative.

The Tutor Crowd, which offers private tutoring, has started a new, innovative campaign to promote their offer of a free English tuition trial. They’ve taken to the capital’s streets to correct the misspelled graffiti found plastered on walls, benches and wheelie bins. Spelling errors are amended with a marker pen and stickers then placed over the errant scrawls, which promote the Tutor Crowd’s site.

The Tutor Crowd’s Tumblr page reads, ‘English tuition doesn’t have to be stuffy, boring and expensive. At The Tutor Crowd we’re taking the classroom to the streets, correcting London’s graffiti to spread our message.’

This novel marketing approach is the result of the company’s collaboration with award-winning marketing agency, Arc. The campaign, which is called ‘Take the Classroom to the Streets’ is running across London in places like South Bank, Camden, Old Street and Shoreditch.

It was written and directed by Dan Kennard and Ben Smith respectively and the goal is to make the tutoring group appear relevant and fresh, especially to young people. Arc, which is part of the Leo Burnett Group have a history of conducting clever marketing campaigns and have worked with big brands including Peroni, Kenco, McDonalds and Tesco.

Beri Cheetham who is Executive Creative Director at Arc, said: ‘To change the traditional perception of English tuition, we needed a non-traditional approach. It’s tongue-in-cheek, free and makes people smile. But most importantly, we hope it helps young people engage in grammar and spelling and get support they need.’

The Tutor Crowd, was founded by Patrick Wilson who is dyslexic and struggled at school. Nevertheless he became a teacher and tutor before starting the company. His experiences, both as a pupil and a teacher provided him with a unique insight on how to improve student’s performances which in turn helped him to turn The Tutor Crowd into a very successful outfit.

“Good spelling and grammar is fundamentally important to young people,” said Mr Wilson. “But teaching it doesn’t have to be old fashioned and stuffy. We wanted to engage parents and young people alike, and make them realise that online tuition is an option that’s available to try.”

This unique marketing approach is certainly a departure from more traditional methods of promotion such as handing out business cards or pasting posters on walls. And the spelling campaign really targets all kinds of graffiti – even some of the more profane scribbles that besmirch our capital’s walls. Although this blanket approach is rather risqué, there’s a certain wit and levity to the campaign which should help the Tutor Crowd brand immeasurably.

If you’d like to forgo private tutoring, remember to check the Typosaurus spell check website!

What is a ‘Spelling Bee’?

There are some who really don’t need a website spell checker. These are the people who make spelling a sport and participate in competitions known as spelling bees. We’ve put together a guide to some of the most popular competitions held around the world.

The spelling bee has been with us since the 19th century. It’s basically a competition which requires contestants to spell a wide range of words of varying degrees of difficulty. It is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom although the first officially recognised spelling bee was first held in the US in 1925.

Based on Noah Webster’s spelling books, which formed a key element in US school curriculums at the time, the competition was sponsored by The Courier Journal, before being taken over by the Scripps Howard News Service. Its popularity increased dramatically during the 1940s – so much so that the competition started to include contestants from all over the US as well as countries like the Bahamas, Canada, Europe and New Zealand.

Africa’s officially recognised spelling bee is aimed at children between the ages of 7 and 14. It started in 2008 and is held in Egypt.

Spelling bees are held at international level and require contestants to learn correct spellings and how words are used in different contexts and sentences. They take place in locations such as India, Bahrain, Dubai, Sharjah and Taiwan.

Australia’s spelling bee is organised by the State Library Foundation of Western Australia and is intended for school-children of 5 to 8 years of age. Early stages take place online with the final, held in front of a live audience.

The Canadian version uses the same rules as its American counterpart and is held nationwide. Spelling bees are held in the 10 Canadian provinces with winners progressing to a national competition.

Begun as an experiment, Kuwait’s spelling bee became an annual event due to its sheer popularity. It now features over 2000 contestants from around 30 schools across the country.

United Arab Emirates
The biggest spelling Bee in the UAE is held at Abu Dhabi University and is open to both private and public institutions. Another competition, sponsored by the Sylva Learning Center, is also rather popular and attracts children from more than 30 schools.

United Kingdom
Although the first reports of spelling bees originate from British Newspapers of the late 19th century, the only competition in existence started in 2009. Organised and run by The Times newspaper, the competition is intended for schools.

United States
In the US, spelling bees are held annually and feature local competitions, whose winners advance to the national level to compete. The National Competition is sponsored by educational foundations and newspapers and is broadcast on ESPN. Its appeal is global and features contestants from far-flung locations such as Guam and American Samoa.

How to get a word in the Oxford English Dictionary

Does your website spell checker indicate a miss-spelled word in your copy? Well, the chances are that you’ve either used a US spelling or typed in a term that doesn’t even exist. Although you may scoff at the notion of using a non-existent word, you might be surprised to learn that such an error is rather common and that many people even attempt to get their invented terms in the Oxford English Dictionary.

The English language is constantly evolving, with hundreds of new words and expressions emerging each year. As a result, choosing which ones to include in the Oxford English Dictionary is an ongoing, never-ending process that can also prove rather tricky for spell check website administrators.

To meet such a challenge, the Oxford University Press runs one of the largest language research programmes in the world. It features two important resources: the Oxford English Corpus and the Oxford Reading Program. The Corpus is made up of complete documents which are gathered from the internet, while the reading programme is basically a huge collection of extracts and sentences, sourced from all kinds of materials such as works of fiction, scientific journals and song lyrics. All this is based on the contributions from a network of readers based around the world who are constantly on the alert for new words and meanings.

The above-mentioned programmes are constantly monitored by the dedicated staff at the OED for evidence of a new phrase or term. Once it becomes evident that the word is being used by multiple sources, it becomes a candidate for inclusion. Other factors are also taken into account such as the significance or importance of the word and how likely it is to remain relevant. Terminology and slang can, after all, be rather faddish.

It was the case in centuries gone-by, that dictionaries only featured words that its authors considered useful, even when nobody else used them. Thankfully, times have changed and words now have to be documented in print or via an online source before they can be considered for inclusion.

The timeline for words to be included in the Oxford English Dictionary is now much shorter. There was a time when a period of two to three years of constant usage was required before a new term could be added. However, in today’s information age, the situation is rather different. New words or phrases can reach a much wider audience in shorter space of time.

There are many who send in words they’ve made up in the often vain hope that they’ll be added to one of Oxford’s English dictionaries. Sadly, most of these terms aren’t used by many, if any, other people nor have they been used over a period of time. As a result most are rejected although there are a few instances where invented terms have been included. In such instances, their inclusion has been because they tend to catch on with others, describe something new or because they fill a gap.

For the most up-to-date record of terms and phrases, try the Typosaurus online spell checker.


UK vs US Spelling: Interesting Differences

We share many lingual similarities with our American cousins. After all, we were the ones who brought them the English language! There are however a few interesting differences which have emerged over time, in how we pronounce and spell certain words. Here’s a run-down of some of the most well-known variations which can sometimes have your average website spell checker getting somewhat confused.

Aeroplane vs Airplane
Aeroplane is more commonly used in the UK and derives from a French word with a totally different meaning. Its variation, Airplane is used predominantly in the US and Canada.

Aluminium vs Aluminum
Aluminium is the standard both in the UK and internationally. However, Humphrey Davy, who discovered aluminium, proposed the latter spelling which has now been taken up by countries such as the US and Canada.

Behove vs Behoove
Dating back to the 19th century, and based on the Old English word behōfian, ‘Behove’ rhymes with ‘move’. The US changed the spelling to reflect its pronunciation. However, ‘Behove’ is still used extensively in the UK.

Fillet v Filet
The UK version is ‘fillet’ and is distinguished between the term ‘filet’ which describes cuts of beef. The US uses the French pronunciation.

Furore vs Furor
‘Furor’ is a Latinate word which actually precedes the word, ‘Furore,’ which is Italian. While Americans opt for the Latin version, the UK uses ‘Furore’. It has the same meaning, although some purists claim each word describes different things.

Moustache vs Mustache
‘Moustache’ is a French word which derives from the Italian term ‘moustacio’. According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, ‘moustache’ is not used as often as the US version ‘mustache’. But actually the former variant is the most common.

Orientated vs Oriented
Originating from the term ‘Orient’, ‘Orientated’ is more commonly used in the UK and other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.  ‘Oriented’ is used exclusively in the United States.

Pyjamas vs Pajamas
Pyjamas’ derives from the Hindustani word ‘pajāmā’, which itself comes from the Persian term ’pāy-jāmeh’. The first version is used by all English-speaking countries apart from the US, although Canadians use both versions.

Speciality vs Specialty    
The standard usage in the UK is ‘speciality’ although the word ‘specialty’ can also be used in the fields of medicine. Americans use ‘specialty’ exclusively while countries such as Australia and New Zealand use both versions.

Tit-bit vs Tidbit
‘Tit-bit’ derives from the Old English word ‘tyd-bit’ and is the UK version. US versions don’t include the hyphen and use the letter ‘d’, which is actually closer to the original 16th century spelling.

Whilst vs While
The traditional version, ‘Whilst’ is considered by some to be outdated. And it seems that ‘while’ is now the most commonly used term, prevalent in international and US English.

So that’s our run-down of some of the most common differences between US and UK spellings and pronunciations.  If you’re ever in doubt about which version to use, take care to use a regional online spell checker or spell check website, like our totally free Typosaurus tool.

Smarties Silly Spelling Error

Typos and spelling errors occur commonly, especially in newspapers and magazines. Indeed, they’re one of the hazards of the job. Sometimes the pressure to meet a deadline means that spellchecking goes by the wayside. However, it’s not often that one of the biggest confectionary companies on the planet makes a spelling blunder that even a seven-year old child can spot. But that’s just what happened recently when eagle-eyed schoolgirl, Eva Ball noticed a blatant spelling error on a tube of Smarties.

As seven year-old Eva was tucking into her favourite treat, she noticed a typo on the packaging. A question on the tube read as: ‘What T might you look at the stars trough?’ The youngster noticed that an ‘h’ was missing and pointed it out to her mother.

“She came running in saying “I’ve found a spelling mistake,” said her mum, Allison.

“I thought she couldn’t be right but when I looked she was. It should be “through” – they’ve missed the “h” out. Not a good advert for spelling on children’s sweets”

“Eva loves her Smarties and she also loves to read. She is fantastic at it and reads above her age level. She reads all kinds of packaging including things like the tomato sauce bottle. She was overjoyed when she found it. She has still got the tube and won’t eat the Smarties.”

“She will read anything”, enthused Eva’s father, David. “When she was really little she was reading the adverts on the backs of buses in the car. Over Christmas she got a set of animal stories to read and she’d finished them by January. She’s a little bookworm”

Eva also wrote a letter to Nestle, suggesting that they correct the error. She received a quick response which included a £2 voucher, although the letter was written in a corporate style.  They also made another case for using a website spell checker by managing to spell her mother’s name wrong in the letter.

Her mother added: “They sent a very corporate letter back…I thought they might have taken a bit more time and written it more for a seven-year-old.”

A Nestle spokesman conceded that it was “…a good spot from Eva” and that the tube had been corrected late last year, meaning that updated packs should be in most stores now.

He went on to add that “Smarties may have all the answers but not necessarily the right questions.”

According to David, Eva’s talent has already been recognised by her school

“The school have put her on the register for the gifted and talented so it’s been recognised that she’s very talented in that area. She’s very clever.’

There are of course numerous ways to avoid embarrassing mistakes like these. Online spell checker tools such as Typosaurus, as well as other lesser spell checker websites, can prove very useful at avoiding such errors. They may also save marketers millions on product recalls. It’s a shame that Nestle didn’t take advantage of such tools!