The world’s English speakers, by a long shot, are the people who are best at spelling words correctly, according to a new study.
The researchers, from the University of Edinburgh and the University College London, wanted to see how accurately English speakers were at spelling.
Their results, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, show that it takes roughly 15 seconds for a person to accurately spell out a word with just a handful of strokes of the keyboard.
“This study shows that even people with limited English proficiency can accurately spell words,” said lead author Andrew Jones, a PhD student at the University’s Centre for Cognitive Science.
“For instance, people with very poor reading skills are more likely to misspell words.”
Jones and his colleagues used data from a series of experiments, the first of which, a 2012 study by David Lewis of the University at Albany, showed that English-speaking people were significantly more accurate at spelling than non-English speakers.
This meant that people who could spell correctly were likely to have an even greater advantage than they had at their natural speaking skills.
“In other words, the more fluent a person is at spelling, the less likely they are to be wrong,” Jones said.
For example, in the study, participants who had no formal training in spelling were significantly less accurate than people who had had formal training, which means that their ability to spell out the correct words was significantly less.
“These are the sorts of things that are very difficult to measure, but these are things that we can use to predict language differences between people,” Jones told Al Jazeera.
“So this study really helps us understand the way language differences are manifested in society.”
The study’s key finding was that the more accurate a person was at spelling when speaking to a computer, the better they were at picking up the words in spoken conversations.
“When you have a limited vocabulary, you tend to pick up words in the wrong order,” Jones explained.
“And that’s really what’s happening here, because we’re looking at how people pick up vocabulary from different languages.”
The researchers found that the word order in spoken English is not a reliable predictor of the spelling accuracy of English speakers.
However, Jones found that it does correlate with spelling ability, indicating that the number of words a person knows can be a reliable indicator of their accuracy at spelling in spoken or written conversations.
Jones explained that when speaking with a computer or smartphone, people are often more comfortable picking up words that are not necessarily easy to spell, such as the letter ‘e’, which they may not be able to pronounce.
For instance, “e” can be spelled correctly, but people may be able spell it in the correct order.
This could explain why people tend to have a harder time spelling “e”, because they have a more difficult time with the letter “e”.
Another factor that could affect the accuracy of a person’s spelling is the way they use their computer screen.
People who are more comfortable using the keyboard as a source of spelling information are likely to be more accurate.
However that may not always be the case.
“The fact that they’re more comfortable with the keyboard is certainly going to play a role in their spelling ability,” Jones noted.
“They’re likely to know what words are most important, because it’s in their vocabulary that they’ve learned to spell.
So that’s why when they’re looking for something to say, they’re going to pick words that make sense to them.”
Jones said that the current study, which relied on a random sample of about 10,000 English-speakers, had a range of limitations.
For one, the researchers only looked at English-language spoken conversations, so the accuracy rate may not have been the same in all contexts.
For another, the study only looked to English speakers who were between 18 and 50 years old.
“I don’t think that’s a huge limitation,” Jones agreed.
“A lot of people are young people and they’re really good at reading and writing.
And we can look at this as an opportunity to look at different populations.”
The results of the new study were based on a series the researchers conducted in 2014.
In addition to using a random survey of about 1,500 people, the scientists also randomly assigned people to take part in the experiment using the Edinburgh English Dictionary.
Jones said the results of this experiment should be used to help guide language learning in future, to make sure that those with a limited number of vocabulary items are able to pick out words with a high degree of accuracy.
“If you can spell correctly, you should be able also to read and write,” he said.
You should be looking at it as an additional resource, and it’s an opportunity for you to learn English and get the skills necessary to do so.”