Have you ever used Google Docs with your EFL students? If so, have you ever wondered why students never seem to spell check their documents? Or, why you are unable to properly use the spell check feature with documents they have shared with you? Well, this has been eating at me for the last week, and today I finally made a point of finding the solution to the problem.
In the image above you can see how Google Docs claims to have “No spelling suggestions” for the error-filled sample sentence. Of course, this particular error was staged for effect, but not on purpose. After spending an afternoon going over student essays in Google Docs, and being continually frustrated by the numerous spelling errors and Google’s reticence to help me with the issue, I finally broke down and started digging for answers. In a moment of frustration, I typed the above-pictured sentence into a new document and was amazed to see that Google finally had some suggestions for me.
What made my documents different than my students’ documents? That was the question that led me to the rather simple solution…
Basically, the only visual difference between my Google Doc and the ones produced by my students was the Japanese language drop-down menu in the top right of the menu bar. This was the final clue I needed. Essentially, the issue was that the documents created by my students, while being composed completely in English, had defaulted to Japanese based on the language of the PC operating system. All I needed to do was change the document settings to English in order to enable Google’s spell check feature again.
(Click on the first image below to view the images as a slideshow of the process of updating the document language settings in order to turn spell check back on.)
So, the lesson here is that if you are having students submit documents in English, make sure that they know how to change the document language settings. Otherwise, they will miss out on the benefits of the built-in spell checking feature, and you will drive yourself to drink doing all the spell checking for them.