Spelling Test

Reporter: David Eccleston

We're rewinding the clock to set the record straight on spelling.

No computers, no Google - and no spell check - just a pen and a piece of paper. There's a chorus of critics who claim tonight's experiment will expose a serious failure of our educators. That we are breeding a nation of students who can't spell basic words.

"We're going to pay a high price now for dismantling formal education." Said Alan Jones

So a simple classroom test - that you too can play along at home- so grab a pen and paper. Generation X - Generation Y - and Baby Boomers ...head to head in the national spelling bee challenge. With the help of primary school Principal Jim Cooper - we've compiled 37 words, words you don't need to be an English scholar to spell. Casting a glaring eye over our students someone well versed on the weakest link in society.....Cornelia Frances.

3 quarters of generation X got the test wrong. In fact across the classroom - 20 of the 27 tested couldn't spell jubilant.

No cheating required for our next word. A word everyone in team Y got a tick on, but do you at home know how to spell it.

With two C's and one L - it's broccoli.

The laughter didn't last.

The results weren't much better for the next word on the list. Only 7 people spelt it correct and NOT one from Gen Y.

Next, we asked the class to spell DUBIOUS - what we got was a shocking result.

Almost half spelled it with a J not a D. One gen Y even like this J-U-B-E-O-U-S. But don't blame them says 2GB broadcaster and former English Teacher Alan Jones.

"The child has no choice. The child hasn't been taught the other way. If the child were taught phonetically, A says ah and B says Beh, there are certain graduations through the vocabulary and you test and you teach and you test again - then the child would be quite happy to accept that. The child didn't have a choice about that but we're making these people potentially illiterate." Said Alan Jones

Can you spell Insidious, meaning to be deceitful. Again more than half the class couldn't.

The next word adolescence - half of the baby boomers got it wrong.

Only one generation Y contestant got it right.

It's a universal issue. A similar study in the UK found a third of adults couldn't spell words like 'Definitely' and 'separate'. An over reliance on auto correct on computers blamed as a major contributor for the poor results. Back home and worrying figures released today from Queensland College of Teachers that almost half of studying teachers failed questions a year 7 student should know.

Jim Cooper is the President of the Primary Schools Association and a School Principal himself. Jim helped Today Tonight compile the spelling list for our test.

Tiffany Farrington, runs a media website called social diary and she's a stickler for correct spelling. And what she sees in CV's is being replicated around the country.

"I just think your cover letter on your CV is a representation of who you are and how good you could be for that job - and I'm really shocked at how many mistakes there were... " Said Tiffany

Back in the classroom, and we left the toughest word for last. A word we're all aware of, but can we spell it.

Only 6 of the 27 could spell it. Of those 27 we tested there was one shining light. Baby Boomer Sue, who got every word right. She puts it down to reading a lot as a child. On the flip side - the lowest score was 9 out of 27 .. From one Gen Y and one X.

"No, I'm surprised they got the 9. I'm surprised about the 9. They've never been taught to spell. We just have you know word recognition. Pass it in front of them and if you see it often enough you learn how to spell it. The teacher doesn't know how to spell. You want to read some of the report cards that are written by the teachers and find out whether they can spell or not. They can't spell." Said Alan Jones

A view shared by our baby boomers that came out on top spelling 74% of the words correct.

Generation X second with 65 % correct and 60 % for Gen Y.

So the question perhaps is does it matter .. In the real world today is spelling that important?

"Where are we going to end up in any of this because you could ask me the same questions about geography, or history, or mathematics and you'd get the same result. They don't have a clue. What's the capital of South Australia? Never heard. Sorry, Where's Suth Astralia? Does it matter? No, it doesn't matter. Please yourself." Said Alan Jones

Test your spelling skills :http://au.news.yahoo.com/today-tonight/competitions/spelling-test