This paper presents the results of Phase 1 study investigating how and why secondary school students use computer tools (spelling and grammar checkers) to aid them in their English writing and how their patterns of use related to their literacy development. The study was centred on how some students use computers effectively to support their writing, while others struggle to read and write in English. Sixty-five Year 8 students sat the standardised literacy tests, followed by a survey. The survey covered many variables including students’ perceptions on the usefulness of the spelling and grammar checkers while composing their English writing. The students’ responses indicated that their regular use of computer tools (spelling and grammar checkers) at Year 8 level aided them in their English writing, but they did not retain the skills that the tools offered. Some students were unsure of their spelling so they resorted to the computer tools to aid them with their spelling and grammatical sentence structure. Their general reasons were that they did not have to remember any of the corrections due to the computer tools availability when they needed them.