10 January 2019

BLOG: How do you look up a word in the Dictionary when you don't know how to spell it?

Natasha is a self-advocate in North Yorkshire. She has written a blog about what writing means to her.


Hi, my name is Natasha. Last year was a real learning curve for me. It was also the year I found myself, and realized, and am proud to be the lady I am today but it also made me think, why is it that the doctors, governments, and teachers, are quick to put everyone in boxes. What real chance have we got to stop stigmatising everyone because the English language is one of the hardest languages to learn when it comes to sounds, spelling and pronunciation, phrases, translation, and written symbols of words, reading and speaking.

So, any form of dictionary, can be really mind boggling, and can be very scary book, to use. Just full of words because not all the words are spelled the way that they sound. With some words, having a silent letter at the front, like the word, “Knaresborough”, and if you asked lots of us how to spell the word, without knowing the correct spelling then I would spell it “Naresborough”. My favourite word is “unique”, which I would spell “unike”. Education can be a tricky time for all of us, and like everyone, we want to be independent, and be able to cope and do our work to the best of our own abilities. Whilst learning and having fun, so we leave with the best grounding, and skills/qualifications, to able us to continue our journey. 

In every part of our lives, words play an important part, in all our worlds. Weather its written or spoken. But even with the most up to date dictionaries and spell checks it makes no different to some. 

Everyone has been there, right, trying to spell a word, but having no idea how to spell it, but more to the point, how does the word even begin? So, if you don’t even, know what the word, begins with, then how, can you start to look it up in the dictionary. Even if you know most of the alphabet, it still is not a real help. Some people have problems, with the pronounce of words, or how they speak. So even if they said the word out loud, they might not be able to pick up what they are saying. They might either be given, the wrong word or no word at all? Leaving us even more frustrated, than before, then there is also the added time.

The only way, to describe, it is like there is a television inside your head, and you have the words they are playing. But for us the connection is broken, where we can correctly, write down the words.

I used to hate going, for my meetings, with my dyslexic tutor, who used, to mark my papers with red pen. Sometimes pulling it all apart, and not listen, or understand what I was trying to say or work on. Sometimes it ended up not feeling like my work at all, and I hated going. In classes, where some of the work, was verbal I managed to do it, for myself, it’s just getting things down on paper which I have problems with. But you might be surprised now to learn, that I love to write, it’s my way of connecting with the world. I am a creative writer.

So instead of thinking how you want to help us, please think, take a step back, and don’t just presume, you know how to help.  Like when you see, us trying to spell a word, “just don’t ask us to look it up in the dictionary” or use a scribe.

Treat everyone as an individual, and with respect, and help everyone individually.


By Natasha Nathan