Spelling lists for students change with the times

September 19, 2008|By LISA PREJEAN

My 10th-grade English teacher would write our spelling words on the board. She did this each week so we could practice writing them in our spelling notebooks.

She was usually very accurate, and I learned so much from her.

One day, though, she was about halfway down the list when she wrote "rhythym."

I squirmed in my seat and looked around. Did anyone else notice the spelling error? They were too busy writing. She kept going with the other words and didn't catch what she had done.

I didn't want her to feel bad, but I didn't want the entire 10th grade misspelling rhythm for the rest of their lives. I quietly raised my hand. When she called on me, I said, "I believe there's only one Y in rhythm."

She looked at the board with an unsure expression. Then she did what every good teacher should do. She suggested that we look up the word together in the dictionary. Seeing really is believing. She thanked me and corrected the error.


I was thinking of that day this week as I was reviewing vocabulary words with my own class of 10th-graders. Most of them would love to have rhythm on their list. Next week's words include amicable, impervious and duplicity.

Times have changed, and expectations have, too.

Today's students are expected to know more than their parents were expected to know at the same age.

If you went back to high school English, how would you do on vocabulary tests? Try your hand at the following questions, which come from the high school-level Vocabulary Workshop curriculum:

Spelling: One word in each group is spelled incorrectly. Correctly spell the word.

1. addmonish, unbridled, cumbersome

2. tentative, stalid, opulent

3. forttitude, reiterate, pliable

4. difuse, salvage, predispose

5. opinionated, dilemna, brigand

Part of speech: Identify the part of speech for each word.

6. circumspect

a. verb

b. noun

c. adjective

d. adverb

7. opulent

a. verb

b. noun

c. adjective

d. adverb

8. warily

a. verb

b. noun

c. adjective

d. adverb

Definition: Choose the word that matches the definition given.

9. to contaminate

a. gibe

b. deploy

c. adulterate

d. reiterate

10. able to use both hands equally well

a. stolid

b. ambidextrous

c. dour

d. verbatim

11. not properly maintained

a. stolid

b. unkempt

c. dour

d. opulent

12. exactly as written or spoken

a. verbatim

b. bereft

c. warily

d. insidious

1. admonish

2. stolid

3. fortitude

4. diffuse

5. dilemma

6. c. adjective

7. c. adjective

8. d. adverb

9. c. adulterate

10. b. ambidextrous

11. b. unkempt

12. a. verbatim

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to

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