Hazelynn Rimbar


Recent studies show that spell-checkers help reduce students’ surface errors in writing by flagging spelling errors and giving correct spelling suggestions. This study investigates if the error correction provided by the spell-checker tool in word processors are internalized by students. A quasi-experimental two-group study was conducted on 30 Form 1 students in a school in Kuching, Sarawak.  The learners were given dictations which contained words listed as commonly misspelled words according to Oxford University Press (2012). The experimental group were given three dictations- one in which they used word processors and allowed to use the spell-checker tool and the control group was given two dictations, both handwritten. The data gathered were analysed using a software for statistical analysis. This study found that, while the spell-checker helped the learners revise their spelling on one dictation exercise, learners still made the same errors in their spelling after the use of spell-checkers. Therefore it argues that while spell-checkers help eliminate surface errors, they have very little influence on correcting the errors on the cognitive level.


Keywords: Spell-checkers, word processors, error correction, dictation, spelling

Cite as: Rimbar, H. (2017). The influence of spell-checkers on students’ ability to generate repairs of spelling errors. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 2(1), 1-12.

Full Text:



Botley, S. & Dillah, D. (2007). Investigating spelling errors in a Malaysian learner corpus. Malaysian Journal of ELT Research, 3, 74-93.

Carlyle, R. (2012, October 27). A new study shows that many bight children, some as old as 14, cannot spell basic words. So what can we do to help? The Times. Retrieved from

Carroll, S. & Merrill, S. (1993). Explicit and implicit negative feedback: An empirical study of the learning of linguistic generalizations. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 15(3), 357-86.

Corpuz, V.A. (2011). Error correction in second language writing: Teachers' beliefs, practices and students' preferences. (Master dissertation). Retrieved from

Ellis, R. (1997). Second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Figueredo, L. & Varnhagen, C.K. (2004). Detecting the problem is half the battle: The relation between error type and spelling performance. Scientific Studies of Reading, 8(4), 337-356

Figueredo, L. & Varnhagen, C.K. (2006). Spelling and grammar checkers: Are they intrusive? British Journal of Educational Technology, 37(5), 721-732.

Galletta, D., Durcikova, A., Everard, A., & Jones, B. (2005). Does spell-checking software need a warning label? Communications of the ACM, 48(7), 82-85.

Gupta, R. (1998). Can spelling checkers help the novice writer? British Journal of Educational Technology, 29, 255-266.

James, C. (1998). Errors in language learning and use: Exploring error analysis. Harlow, Esses: Addison-Wesley Longman.

Jinkerson, L.A. & Baggett, P. (1993). Spell checkers: Aids in identifying and correcting spelling errors. The Journal of Computing in Childhood Education, 4(4), 291-306.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2005). Second language acquisition and the issue of fossilization: There is no end, and there is no state. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Lyster, R. & Ranta, L. (1997). Corrective feedback and learner uptake negotiation. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19(1), 37-66.

Lyster, R. (2001). Negotiation of form, recasts, and explicit correction in relation to error types and learner repair in immersion classrooms. Language Learning Issue, 51, 265-301.

Lightbown, P. & Spada, N. (1999). How languages are learned. New York: Oxford University Press.

Milicev, J. (2014). Correct me if I’m wrong, but do it right: Error correction and learner uptake in university-level EFL classrooms. Athens Journal of Philology, 1(4), 259-271.

Odlin, T. (1989). Language transfer: Cross-linguistic influence in language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Panova, I. & Lyster, R. (2002). Patterns of corrective feedback and uptake in adult. TESOL Quarterly, 36(4), 573-595.

Park, C. (2011). The influence of L1 phonological and orthographic system in L2 spelling: A comparison of Korena learners of English and native speaking children. Retrieved from

Paton, G. (2012, October 29). Spellcheck generation 'failing to write simple words'. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Peterson-Karlan, G.R. (2011). Technology to support writing by students with learning and academic disabilities: Recent research trends and findings. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits, 7(1), 39-62.

Ranaivo-Malanyon, B. (2005). Malay lexical analysis through corpus-based approach. Penang, Malaysia: Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Schwartz, B. (1998). On two hyphothesis of ‘transfer’ in L2A: Minimal trees and absolute L1 influence. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Tedick, D. (1998). Research on error correction and implications for classroom teaching. Retrieved from

Truscott, (1999). What's wrong with oral grammar correction? Canadian Modern Language Review, 55(4), 437-456.

Walker, J.L. (1973). Opinions of university students about language teaching. Foreign Language Annals, 7, 102-105.

Young, D.J. (1991). Creating a low-anxiety classroom environment: What does language anxiety research suggest? The Modern Language Journal, 75(4), 426-439.


  • There are currently no refbacks.