Wednesday, February 16, 2011

PLENK2010 ds106 Teaching Spelling

Out of the blue I got an order for penmanship books…after four years!  I guess someone was listening to the article on penmanship on Q on the CBC!  This made me review my instructions to the teacher that I include with the full version of my penmanship books.  In it, I include a small section on spelling, a topic that came up in conversation with a friend of mine.

The fine point is this:  The purpose for teaching spelling is so the student can transfer the sounds he hears in his mind to the words he must write on the page—SOUND to IMAGE.  Therefore, as he practices writing out the spelling word, he should be saying the sounds of the letters as he writes them.  When you give him the spelling test, do you not dictate the words?

This is how the spelling of the words was invented in the first place.  English spelling was standardized in the first place by pressmen, those pioneers who printed books and newspapers, turning local dialects and pronunciations into national spellings.  In some cases the spellings from one place became standard, but the pronunciation from another place became standard, and they did not quite match! Then we say that English spelling is crazy!

The student must learn to look at the word, say the word, then say the word as he writes it, and then check back to see if his version looks like the model word.  If his version is correct, he can go ahead and copy his own correct model whispering it out to himself as he practices writing.   I know, this can be noisy. … But it makes for a learning situation rather than a non-learning situation.

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