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Feel like a spell? Effective spelling instruction (Updated 2018)

Implications for practice of current research on spelling.

 

Dr Kerry Hempenstall, Senior Industry Fellow, School of Education, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

First published Aug 9 2013 Updated 3/5/2018

 All my blogs can be viewed on-line or downloaded as a Word file or PDF at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/olxpifutwcgvg8j/AABU8YNr4ZxiXPXzvHrrirR8a?dl=0


 

 spelling-shcool

 

 Underlying principles from research:

Fluency in lower order processes is necessary for success in higher order processes (e.g., decoding for comprehension, spelling for writing, tables for problem solving).

Practice is the key to fluency. e.g., knitting, topspin backhand, reading, spelling, writing. Initially, corrective feedback is vital, followed by spaced independent practice.

Using skill is fun; acquiring skill (learning) may not be fun!

 


 Old belief shown to be wrong: Naturally unfolding development.

"Children learn spelling without direct instruction if they read and write" (Goodman, 1989). 

Nup!


Old belief shown to be wrong: If you don’t get it easily, you can’t get it ever!

“If your daughter struggles with spelling, she should simply make sure she marries a good speller” (Donald Graves, 1983).

Whaaat!

 

Old belief shown to be wrong: Spelling's not really that important anyway, as long as communication takes place?

Yes, it’s important because spelling is a lower order skill that drives writing quality. Misspelling can also disrupt meaning:

When spelling is effortful, writing quality becomes limited by the need to concentrate on intra-word structure rather than meaning. Similarly, dysfluent handwriting slows the creative process, and interferes with real time planning. Additionally, a lack of facility with grammar hinders sentence construction, and hence expressive writing. The quality of handwriting and spelling have been found to be the best predictors of the amount and quality of written composition.

Unfortunately, current educational practice minimizes explicit instruction and practice of such skills (British Primary Framework for Literacy, 2006; McNeill & Kirk, 2014).

 

 “Learning correct spelling is important for several reasons: First, misspellings can cause errors and difficulties in comprehension. Second, readers may develop negative impressions of a writer’s arguments if his prose contains misspelled words (1). And finally, learning conventional spellings of words allows people to read the words more quickly (2) and concentrate on ideas rather than spelling.” ... How children should learn to spell is controversial. In this article, I have argued that the goal of spelling instruction is for children to understand how their writing system works. Children learn about some aspects of spelling on their own, including from exposure to written words while reading, but reading experience is insufficient for children to spell proficiently. The traditional instructional method—having children look at spellings, visualize them mentally, and try to reproduce them—does little to help them understand the workings of the writing system. Phonics instruction goes some way toward this goal, but more comprehensive instruction is needed to present a full picture." (p. 1, 5)

Treiman, R. (2018). Teaching and learning spelling. Child Development Perspectives, 0(0), 1–5.

 


Can’t Spellcheck replace spelling knowledge?

 

 “Spell Checkers usually catch just 30% to 80% of misspellings overall (Moats, 2005). Since the advent of word processing and spell checkers, some educators have argued that spelling instruction is unnecessary. It’s true that spell checkers work reasonably well for those of us who can spell reasonably well—but rudimentary spelling skills are insufficient to use a spell checker. Spell checkers do not catch all errors. Students who are very poor spellers do not produce the close approximations of target words necessary for the spell checker to suggest the right word. In fact, one study (Montgomery, Karlan, and Coutinho, 2001) reported that spell checkers usually catch just 30 to 80 percent of misspellings overall (partly because they miss errors like here vs. hear), and that spell checkers identified the target word from the misspellings of students with learning disabilities only 53 percent of the time”.

 Moats, L.C. (2005/06 Winter). How spelling supports reading. American Educator, 12-43.

 

Prays the Lord for the spelling chequer

That came with our pea sea!

Mecca mistake and it puts you rite

Its so easy to ewes, you sea.

I never used to no was it e before eye?

(Four sometimes its eye before e.)

But now I've discovered the quay to success

It's as simple as won, too, free!

Sew watt if you lose a letter or two,

The whirled won't come two an end!

Can't you sea? It's as plane as the knows on yore face


S. Chequer's my very best friend

I've always had trubble with letters that double

"Is it one or to S's?" I'd wine

But now, as I've tolled you this chequer is grate

And its hi thyme you got won, like mine (Janet E. Byford)


Won’t students grow into good spelling?

No, it's not a natural process like learning to speak. There's no dedicated, evolved brain region for spelling. The brain has to adapt other structures, and needs direction to do so optimally. Besides, the errors of older poor spellers are similar to those of younger normal children. They don't automatically reduce over time.

 


Poor spelling can impede careers

Parents (Department of Education, Science and Training DEST, 2007) and employers (Michael, 2012; Australian Industry Group, 2013) report concerns regarding spelling and grammar. In the DEST survey, only 37.5% of the surveyed parents believed that students were leaving school with adequate skills in literacy. In the recent Australian Industry Group employer survey, 93% of employers considered their business success was compromised by employees’ low level literacy skills, and they found in-house basic skills training was necessary.

  • 75% of employers are put off a job candidate by poor spelling or grammar
  • Poor English expression alienated 77% of the 515 companies surveyed (BBC News, 2006).
  • "Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control." - Jeffrey Gitomer (https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/jeffrey_gitomer)
  • Recruiters spend an average of 3.14 minutes reading a candidate’s resume and they have generally made up their mind within the first minute. 59% of recruiters will reject a candidate because of poor grammar or a spelling error. (https://theundercoverrecruiter.com/the-top-resume-mistakes-that-could-cost-you-the-job/)

 


We don’t teach spelling adequately

In the national assessment program (NAPLAN) reporting, the results superficially appear comforting. The proportion of students meeting national minimum standards is very high – over 90% across all Year levels (ACARA, 2013a). However, in a recent document (ACARA, 2013b; ACARA, 2013c), which was only released after a Freedom of Information request from a politician, it is evident that answering only a few items correctly is sufficient to determine that a student meets minimum standards. In Year 3 spelling in the 2013 assessment, three correct out of 25 questions was the threshold for meeting the minimum standard, a jump from one correct out of 25 in 2011 (Hall, 2013). Such a low threshold does not inspire confidence that meeting minimum standards is a meaningful achievement. The 2013 NAPLAN Conversion Tables (ACARA, 2013c) also offers information about what proportion of students reached a raw score equivalent to 50% of questions answered correctly (i.e., a “pass” score). NAPLAN test results are divided into 10 bands that rank children into achievement levels. The higher the band number, the higher is the achievement level. In Year 3 a pass score would place the student in Band 4; in Year 5 a pass score would place the student in Band 6; and in Years 7 and 9 a pass score would place the student in Band 7. Thus achievement in the higher bands is achieved with surprisingly low raw scores.

  • Australian children don't spell English as well as do Mandarin-speaking children in Singapore
  • Nine times more students in Singapore (50% ESL) can spell less-common words or those with unusual spelling patterns (Educational Assessment Australia, UNSW, 2006)
  • We stopped structured teaching of spelling decades ago -the wallpaper method predominates (teacher writes many words on paper on classroom walls)
  • Between 1978 and 1993, the scores of South Australian 7.5 yr old students fell about 14% (Westwood & Bissaker, 2006)
  • Many teachers have not been taught to analyse errors in writing (Wheeldon, 2006).
  • Beginning primary teachers are not confident about teaching specific aspects of literacy such as spelling, grammar, and phonics (Louden et al., 2005)
  • On average, less than 10% of teacher training is devoted to literacy, and in some universities it is 5% (Louden et al., An investigation into the preparation of teachers to teach literacy and numeracy, 2005).

 

It has been argued (Mahar & Richdale, 2008; Mullock, 2012; Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Committee, 2007) that teacher education institutions pay insufficient attention to spelling instruction in their courses.

Many Australian teachers do not have a strong understanding of the structure of the English language (Fielding-Barnsley, 2010; Fielding-Barnsley& Purdie, 2005; Mullock, 2012; Tetleya & Jones, in press). Spear-Swerling and Brucker (2004) noted that error analyses of the word structure knowledge of teachers and their students indicated a close similarity. Thus, low teacher knowledge of word structure was associated with a similarly low level in their students. This inability to deliver what one doesn’t have appears to apply also to some teacher trainers. In a study by Binks-Cantrell, Washburn,  Joshi, and Hougen (2012) teacher educators were assessed on their knowledge of basic language constructs, such as phonological and phonemic awareness, the alphabetic principle, and morphology. Most of these teacher educators had doctoral degrees, yet there were glaring weaknesses in their knowledge. Further, the teachers in training were also assessed, and there was a marked relationship between the results of the teacher educators and their own students, that is, the teachers in training for whom they were responsible. See also the Bos et al. (2001) study which evaluated the knowledge of language structure of both teachers in training and teacher educators, 53% of teachers in training and 60% of teacher educators were unable to correctly answer nearly half of the questions.

“The current study aimed to examine teachers’ reported spelling assessment and instruction practices. Analysis of the match between teachers’ theoretical beliefs about spelling and their reported pedagogy was conducted to elucidate factors that may support or impede the use of evidence-based teaching strategies in the classroom. An electronic survey was completed by 405 randomly selected (stratified by region and socioeconomic status) elementary school teachers in New Zealand. The survey examined the following areas: spelling assessment, spelling instruction, beliefs about spelling, preparing teachers to teach spelling, and teachers’ perceived strengths and weaknesses of their spelling program. There was large variability in spelling assessment and instructional practices across teachers. Most respondents reported implementing some aspects of a developmental approach to spelling instruction through analysis of children’s spelling errors (64 %) and/or individualization of the spelling program (60 %). There was a large dissociation between teachers’ beliefs about spelling and their frequency of use of specific instructional practices associated with those beliefs (e.g., phonological awareness, orthographic knowledge). The mismatch between beliefs and reported practice appeared to be due to lack of professional knowledge regarding implementing explicit spelling instruction and finding time to teach spelling within the curriculum. Increasing teachers’ knowledge about language structure, practical implementation of key assessment and instruction activities, and the links between spelling and other areas of the curriculum are important factors in improving spelling pedagogical practices.” (p.535)

McNeill, B., & Kirk, C. (2014). Theoretical beliefs and instructional practices used for teaching spelling in elementary classrooms. Reading & Writing, 27, 535–554.

 


Teacher knowledge is an important issue:

There have been studies indicating that teachers with a greater understanding of language structure have students with stronger reading and spelling achievement. “K–5 teachers with intensive professional development in basic language constructs produced students with significantly higher scores on reading tasks compared to students who were taught by teachers without this knowledge (McCutchen, Abbott, et al., 2002; McCutchen & Berninger, 1999; McCutchen, Harry, et al., 2002; McCutchen, Green, Abbott, & Sanders, 2009) (Binks-Cantrell et al., p.528).

 


Fred came home from his first day at school. "Nothing exciting happened", he told his mother, "Except the teacher didn’t know how to spell cat so I told her"


What does the research say about invented spelling?

Invented spellings should never replace the organized instruction that should begin about the middle of first grade (Moats, 1994). The message to students should be clear from the beginning that accurate conventional spelling is the goal.

There is a belief that spelling simply evolves from reading and/or writing. That spellings are often self-taught via reading is true for skilled readers (Pacton, Borchard, Treiman, Lété, & Fayol, 2013); however, self-teaching alone is ineffective for young students whose literacy skills are still developing. In fact, research has demonstrated “ … that children are less likely to learn words’ spellings from the reading of meaningful, connected text than from the study of isolated words” (Treiman, in press, p.16).

A belief that uncorrected invented spelling will lead to progressively close approximations to conventional spelling has also been rejected (Read & Treiman, 2013). That doesn’t mean that invented spelling has no functional purpose. Invented spelling is best viewed as a means for students to explore the links between phonemes and orthographic representations. However, it is best achieved when feedback allows the comparison of their efforts with conventional spelling is provided (Sénéchal, Ouellette, Pagan, & Lever, 2012).

 


 Complications in English spelling.

English is a tough written language to master. It is considered opaque rather than transparent. In transparent languages, there is close to 1:1 correspondence between letters and sounds.

Some of the complexity relates to the different languages that make up the English language. Our spelling is also complicated by its history. In 15th century England – there were numerous dialects (none official) so spelling only became conventional when writing became a major form of communication across England.

For example, 

CHURCH was spelled in the north as: Kirk, Kyrk, Kyrke, Kirke, Kerk, Kirc, Kerke

CHURCH was spelled in the south as: Churche, Cherche, Chirche, Church, Chyrch, Charge, Schyrche

 

  • The 26 letters of the alphabet form 44 phonemes for which there are 251 different spellings (Hull, 1976; Mercer, 1987).
  • 1800 English homonyms (bank-bank), and numerous words with irregular spelling patterns (Collins, 1983)
  • English has 1,120 ways to write the 44 sounds (mint/pint, cough/bough, clove/love). Compare with Italian which has only 33 ways to write the 25 sounds (Paulesu, 2001)

  

Some letter-groups are inconsistent:

ea has 6 different sounds - cream, head, early, bear, heart, steak

ough has 7 sounds - cough, bough, through, though, tough, thorough, thought

 

English words from other languages

The truth is that if borrowing foreign words could destroy a language, English would be:

  • dead (Old Norse),
  • deceased (French),
  • defunct (Latin),
  • kaput (German).

When it comes to borrowing from other languages, English

  • excels (Latin),
  • surpasses (French), and
  • eclipses (Greek) any other tongue past or present (Claiborne, 1983).

Ch is used to spell /ch/ in Anglo-Saxon words such as chair;

It is used to spell /k/ in Greek-derived words such as chorus; and

It spells /sh/ in French-derived words such as charade and Charlotte

 

“Therefore it is claimed that literacy acquisition may be easier with transparent languages because these languages only require children to learn one-to-one correspondences between spoken and written units (Wyse & Goswami, 2008). There is much evidence to support this view. Finnish children read with 90% accuracy after a very short period of formal instruction (approximately 10 weeks) whereas English children take four or five years to achieve the same level of accuracy (Goswami, 2005). Seymour, Aro, and Erskine (2003) compared reading development across 14 European languages. Their findings revealed striking differences between languages. At the end of grade one English-speaking children performed poorly (34% correct word reading). In contrast, children learning to read in transparent orthographies (Greek, Finnish, German, Italian, and Spanish), were close to ceiling performance. Furthermore, a recent study of Italian children by Desimoni, Scalisi and Orsolini (2012) also provides further evidence ‘that the consistency of an orthography affects the characteristics of reading and spelling acquisition’ (p12)” (p.85)

Devonshire, V., Morris, P., Fluck, M. (2013). Spelling and reading development: The effect of teaching children multiple levels of representation in their orthography. Learning and Instruction, 25, 85-94.


Might the ITA (Initial Teaching Alphabet) be an answer to this problem?

Some have argued that modifying spelling conventions, for example, through the Initial Teaching Alphabet (ITA) would increase the English language's regularity. These reform attempts are based on the principle that one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds will make learning to read and spell easier. There are disadvantages, however, with a change to the ITA. Under ITA, for example, homophones would have the same spellings, making comprehension more difficult; and intra-word conditional redundancies (an element in skilled word recognition) would be unavailable to the reader. Garner (1962, cited in Gibson & Levin, 1978) argued that letters are more constrained (and thus more predictable) than words. These conditional rules about clusters of consonants, and the allowable number of vowels in a sequence reduce uncertainty, thereby facilitating word recognition and spelling.

So, one alternative strategy would be to teach beginning readers the ITA orthography, and then teach the traditional form as they master the principles of reading. There is some doubt (Crowder & Wagner, 1992; Groff, 1990) whether such reform would be worth the trouble, as longitudinal studies (Rayner & Pollatsek, 1989) that have compared students in traditional and reformed systems found no significant between-group differences by the time that the transfer back to traditional orthography was completed. Perhaps the most enduring outcome of the bold ITA attempt at reform will be the recognition that an early emphasis on learning the alphabetic principle is most efficacious in beginning reading and spelling instruction (Chall, 1967).

Whether wholesale reform to ITA would be advantageous overall is irrelevant, given that the disadvantages would fall on adults (the decision-makers) who would be required to relearn the reading and spelling process.

 


However, English's irregularity is not as grim as it sounds:

  • English has 200,000 commonly used words (Bryson, 1990)
  • A mere 100 words make up 60% of the words primary school children write.
  • 300 words account for 75% of the words children write (Croft, 1997).
  • English consonants are highly regular (initial 96%, final 91%)
  • Vowels are highly irregular (isolated 52%, vowels linked to consonants in rimes 77%) (Treiman, Mullenix, Bijejac-Babic, & Richmond-Welty, 1995).
  • About 60 percent of the words in English running text are of Latin or Greek origin (Henry, 1997).
  • Only 4% of English words are truly irregular (Kelssler & Treiman, 2001).

So, is English predictable enough for explicit spelling instruction?

 

“Nevertheless, significant consistencies, regularities and patterns do exist (Carney, 1994; Hanna, Hanna, Hodges, & Rudorf, 1966; Kessler, 2009; Kessler & Treiman, 2003; Venezky, 1970). According to Fischer, Shankweiler, and Liberman (1985), consistency in English orthography works at three broad levels. At the first level are words whose orthographic realisation is relatively close to their phonetic form, and whose spelling patterns have a high degree of occurrence (i.e., regular sound–letter associations such as cat, step, and take). At the second level are words whose sound–letter mappings are more or less straightforward, except that they contain a segment that is ambiguous or problematic, where the relationship between the symbols, sound and/or the morphemic structure is not transparent in the spelling. This typically occurs when rule-governed morphological changes are applied. For example, when the past tense morpheme <-ed> is added to the verb tap, the sound /p/ is represented not by <p> but by <pp>, the doubled consonant signalling that the letter is pronounced /æ/ rather than /ei/ as in taped. The third level consists of words whose foreign or archaic origins make it difficult to derive their spelling from morphophonemic knowledge alone. Such words contain one or more segments which either do not normally occur in English, or which occur infrequently, such as the words debt, indict, bourgeois, Fahrenheit, or zeitgeist.” (p. 173)

Mullock, B. (2012). An examination of commercial spelling programs for upper primary level students. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 36 (2), 172-195.


 “Our writing system is an amalgam of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and Greek, and to a lesser extent, includes spellings from French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Each of these languages contributed spelling conventions that within the language of origin were predictable but that violate the patterns of another. For example, ch is used to spell /ch/ in Anglo-Saxon words such as chair; is used to spell /k/ in Greek-derived words such as chorus; and spells /sh/ in French-derived words such as charade and Charlotte”.

Moats, L.C. (1998, Spring/Summer). Teaching decoding. American Educator, 1-9.

 


“English and French are more complex than Italian. English has 1,120 ways of representing 40 sounds, whereas there are only 25 sounds in Italian and they are represented in 33 combinations of letters. The disorder is more common in the United States than in Italy”.

Paulesu, E., Demonet, J-F., Fazio, F., McCrory, E., Chanoine, V., Brunswick, N., Cappa, S.F., Cossu, G., Habib, M., Frith, C.D., & Frith, U. (2001). Dyslexia: Cultural diversity and biological unity. Science, 291, 2165-2167.

 


“This is a question we hear often. If English spelling were completely arbitrary, one could argue that visual memorization would be the only option. However, spelling is not arbitrary. Researchers have estimated that the spellings of nearly 50 percent of English words are predictable based on sound-letter correspondences that can be taught (e.g., the spellings of the /k/ sound in back, cook, and tract are predictable to those who have learned the rules). And another 34 percent of words are predictable except for one sound (e.g., knit, boat, and two). If other information such as word origin and word meaning are considered, only 4 percent of English words are truly irregular and, as a result, may have to be learned visually (e.g., by using flashcards or by writing the words many times)”.

Joshi, M.R., Treiman, R., Carreker, S., & Moats, L.C. (2008). How words cast their spell. American Educator, 6-16, 42.

 


“The challenges of learning to spell in English are widely documented in literature (Goswami, 2005, Graham Morphy, Harris, Fink-Chorzempa, Saddler, Moran, Mason, 2008; Mullock, 2012; O’Sullivan, 2000; Reed, 2012; Westwood, 2013). Up to one third of students fail to read and spell to a reasonable standard (Graham et. al., 2008; Westwood, 2008). A lack of understanding can make the English language seem like a chaotic and formidable mountain to climb (Simonsen & Gunter, 2001). However there are consistencies, regularities and patterns that provide some scaffolding and order to the learning experience (Invernizzi & Hayes, 2004; Kessler, 2009; Kessler & Trieman, 2003; Mullock, 2012).”

Russo, A & Pike, K.  (2014). Reading Eggspress Spelling Program, Scientific Research Base, November, 2014. Retrieved from https://readingeggspress.com.au/assets/rex-spelling-srb-2014.pdf

 


"Given that only 4% of English words are totally irregular, there is tremendous value in teaching students to use a phonemic approach to spelling. At least 50% of English words can be encoded exactly as they sound, while another 34% have only one unpredictable letter (Moats, 2005). Even this high percentage increases if attention is given not only to single and double letters, but also to groups of letters that represent larger pronounceable units within the word. As indicated in the first section of this paper, these letter groups represent higher-order regularities within words that help with rapid word recognition and spelling (Dehaene, 2009). Murray and Steinen (2011) acknowledge the importance of identifying larger sound units than single phonemes within words, and have devised a system they call ‘Word-Map-Ping’. It teaches children to break spoken words into their component sound units before looking at the spelling pattern in print. The children then map the sound units to the relevant letter groups" (p.6).

Westwood, P. (2015). Spelling: Do the eyes have it? Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 20(1), 3-13.

 


 What does the research say about relying on spelling lists?

The adult writer spells 10,000 to 20,000 words.

Weekly spelling lists enable at most 3,800 words during the primary years.

Over-emphasis on lists promotes strategy of rote visual memorisation – a system bound to collapse (Scott, 2000).

 Similarly, the over-reliance on Look Cover Write Check and its variants (though very prevalent in schools) is not a very productive strategy of itself, as it's predicated largely on the visual approach.

“The LCWC strategy and its variations have been evaluated in a number of studies over the years, and have proved to be quite effective for learning irregular words (Cates et al., 2007; Erion et al., 2009; Fisher, Bruce, & Greive, 2007; Jaspers et al., 2012). However, Boyle (2013) suggests that while visual memorization of single words may bring improvement in the short term, it does not necessarily generalize to the spelling of any other words, and does not transfer well to spelling while writing. Similarly, an earlier study by Darch and Simpson (1990) found that if you teach only a visual imagery strategy, you severely limit students’ insights into the variety of other ways for tackling words. For example, it is often thought that whole-word memorization is the only way to master the spelling of irregular words – yet, as Reis-Frankfort (2013) observes, even the most irregular words contain some regular sound-to-letter correspondences within their structure. Reis- Frankfort recommends that spellers should pay due attention to these parts of irregular words that can be written as they sound – and then concentrate on remembering the ‘tricky’ bits.” (p.4)

Westwood, P. (2015). Spelling: Do the eyes have it? Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 20(1), 3-13.

 “The results were consistent with the findings of Hilte and Reitsma (2011) that explicit teaching of a spelling rule not only improved learning of trained words but also enabled transfer to spelling of novel words. Our findings were also consistent with Kemper et al. (2012) who found that teaching rules explicitly helped with spelling of taught words and transfer words. Our results differed in that our no-rule group did learn to spell the trained words. This might have been because we used the look, say, cover, write, check, fix strategy for the no-rule group, which has previously been found to be effective (Erion, Davenport, Rodax, Scholl, & Hardy, 2009; Jaspers et al., 2012; Zielinsky, McLaughlin, & Derby, 2012). … In terms of practical implications, it can be argued that English spelling is more regular than is sometimes supposed, and that teachers can easily develop students’ knowledge of common spelling rules (Henry, 2010). Teaching the “Big 8” spelling rules as in this study would likely be of benefit.” (p. 183)

Dymock, S., & Nicholson, T. (2017). To what extent does children’s spelling improve as a result of learning words with the look, say, cover, write, check, fix strategy compared with phonological spelling strategies?, Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 22(2), 171-187.

So, the most common approach has been to provide spelling lists for students to study each week for testing at the week’s end. “High frequency lists, such as those produced by Hudson (1983), Clutterbuck, (1990), and Rowe & Lomas (1996), are frequently used by teachers” (Department of Education and Children’s Services, 2011). Lists per se can be valuable adjuncts to a spelling program if they are organised according to patterns of word structure rather than to word frequency. The expectation is that students will either store the words as pictographs using rote visual memorization, or else they will independently induce the phonemic and morphological techniques necessary for adept conventional spelling. The problem with pictographs is that they are not generative, They do not offer cues other than a unique word shape.

"To build sight words in memory, orthographic mapping is required. Readers must form connections between the spellings and pronunciations of specific words by applying knowledge of the general writing system. When readers see a new word and say or hear its pronunciation, its spelling becomes mapped onto its pronunciation and meaning. These mapping connections serve to “glue” spellings to their pronunciation in memory." (Ehri, 2014, p.6).

Scott (2000) estimated that even the most intensive word list program, extended weekly throughout the primary years could display for students only between 20% to 40% of all the words they are expected to be able to spell. Further, the lack of systematic instruction means that, for vulnerable learners, it is a fruitless hope that spelling will be learned incidentally (Bourassa & Treiman, 2014). Even for students not at risk, the limited pictographic memory store cannot deal with such a challenge, and there are insufficient practice opportunities for the spelling presented to be stored as readily retrievable orthographic images (Westwood, 2008). Thus, students try to memorize the spelling list for the test, but with neither a productive strategy nor an understanding that the words share characteristics of other words in that family, the spelling of the tested words is soon forgotten (Dixon, 1993; Scott, 2000).

 


Child: I’ll never learn to spell.

Mother: Why not?

Child: The teacher keeps changing the words.

 


 What does the research say about spelling and phonemic awareness? 

There is a recognised strong association between early spelling ability, phonological awareness, and beginning reading. At least initially, spelling and phonological skills are closely linked.

  • Success in spelling requires accurate perception of speech before the link between speech sounds and letter patterns can be learned
  • It is distinctive from that involved in ordinary oral competence - for example, the duration of the vowel in bad is almost twice as long as in bat - this can confuse the phonemically insensitive

So, some poor spellers may have inaccurate perception of speech sounds

Spelling deficits are preceded by phonological deficits (Wimmer & Mayringer, 2002).

Phonemic analysis training will improve spelling for all spellers even without drill on conventional spellings.

 

So, the research says the relationship between spelling and phonemic awareness is reciprocal?

  • Learning to spell improves children’s conscious awareness of the phonemic structure of spoken words, and
  • learning to segment spoken words provides insights in how to use these phonemic elements in spelling (British Primary Framework for Literacy, 2006; Hecht & Close, 2002)

National Reading Panel Report (2000): Phonological training (explicitly and systematically teaching children to manipulate phonemes) builds spelling in normally achieving children – though alone it is not sufficient for disabled readers.

 

Explicitly and systematically means?

  • teach children to manipulate phonemes using letters,
  • focus the instruction on segmenting & blending, rather than multiple activities
  • teach children in small groups.
  • Incorporate feedback, and massed and spaced practice.

 

 Results of 2006 meta-analytic intervention research review:

Spelling outcomes were consistently improved when interventions included:

  • explicit instruction, with
  • multiple practice opportunities, and
  • immediate corrective feedback after the word was misspelled (Wanzek et al., 2006).

 


How do you spell wrong?

R – o – n - g.

That’s wrong.

That’s what you asked for, isn’t it?


Little Johnny wasn’t very good at spelling. During an oral spelling exam, the teacher wrote the word "new" on the blackboard. "Now," she asked Johnny, "what word would we have if we placed a "K" in the front?" After a moments reflection, Johnny said, "Canoe?"


Phonics instruction & spelling (National Reading Panel, 2000)

 

Systematic synthetic phonics instruction benefits students’ spelling from P-6, and

  • especially for children having difficulty learning to read
  • Includes low socio-economic status and ESL children
  • Across all grade levels, systematic phonics instruction improved the ability of good readers to spell.
  • By age 8, the correlation between spelling and reading is about .9, a very close association (Westwood, 2005).
  • The impact of systematic synthetic phonics was strongest for preps and decreased in later grades. For poor readers, the impact of phonics instruction (alone) on spelling was small. Strugglers are very reliant on dedicated spelling instruction.

Westwood, P. (2005). Spelling: Approaches to teaching and assessment (2nd. ed.). Melbourne: ACER.

 

Australian National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy (2005)

Where there is unsystematic or no phonics instruction, literacy progress is significantly impeded, inhibiting initial and subsequent growth in reading accuracy, fluency, writing, spelling, and comprehension. Beneficial effects are larger when phonics instruction begins early rather than after first grade.

 

Explicit (or Synthetic) phonics:

  • All of the letter sounds are taught initially and the emphasis is on how words are built up
  • For most students, it can be taught in a few months.
  • It starts before children are introduced either to whole words in print, or to literature for reading
  • Books initially rely on decodable text - words use the sound-spelling correspondences taught to that point.

 

Implicit (or Analytic) phonics:

  • Taught after an initial sight vocabulary has been established, alongside reading-scheme or big books
  • Phonic cues only employed within story context, the whole word is emphasized, but children may have their attention drawn to certain letters and their sounds

 

Implicit phonics is shown to be ineffective for struggling readers –

  • insufficient intensity,
  • insufficiently systematic,
  • insufficient practice.

 


 What else does the research say about spelling?

  • Phonological decoding skill (sounding out) has the largest influence on spelling ability
  • Pseudo-word reading is the best predictor of spelling in primary grade children e.g., ipsud

 


Should we attend to individual learning styles in planning instruction?

“The whole notion of differences in learning style among learners has become a sacred cow in education. Even if modality differences do exist (and that is debatable), any notion that individuals learn better when they receive information in their supposed preferred learning style is a myth (Dekker, Howard-Jones, & Jolles, 2012). There is no firm evidence that teachers can teach students according to learning style or preferences (Atherton, 2011; Boyle, 2013; Coffield, Moseley, Hall, & Ecclestone, 2004; Kratzig & Arbuthnott, 2006; Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork, 2008; Snider, 2006) – even though 82% of teachers believe that such teaching does improve learning outcomes (Howard-Jones, 2013). But the hard evidence is that teaching all children to spell must inevitably engage their visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic modalities (and brain) in an entirely integrated way.” (p.8)


Westwood, P. (2015). Spelling: Do the eyes have it? Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 20(1), 3-13.

 

“What we do know from research is that people are able to encode and represent information in multiple ways, and the activation of the multiple representations increases memory, learning and achievement…. The activation of multiple representations, including visual and verbal representations, is linked to better learning in mathematics and reading (DeStefano & LeFevre, 2004; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1997). In sum, it is not matching instruction to a learning style that produces good learning, but the activation of multiple representations. The more representations activated, the better the learning. … Likewise, reading achievement is dependent not only on verbal skills (Edwards, Walley, & Ball, 2003; Eldredge, 2005; Stanovich & Siegel, 1994), but also visuo-spatial skills (Denis, 1996; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1997; Pressley, Cariglia-Bull, Deane, & Schneider, 1987).” (p.412)

An, D., & Carr, M. (2017). Learning styles theory fails to explain learning and achievement: Recommendations for alternative approaches. Personality and Individual Differences, 116, 410–416.

 


  The physical act of writing may enhance spelling

'Writing helps in many ways. First, the physical act of forming the letters forces the child to look closely at the features that make one letter different from another...Second, writing letters (left to right) trains the ability to read left to right. Third, saying each sound as the letter is written helps anchor the sound-to-letter connection in the memory'(p. 239 (McGuinness, 2004).

 

“Handwriting speed is important to the quantity and quality of children's essays. This article reviews research on adult essay writing and lecture note taking that extends this finding to adult writers. For both children and adults, research suggests that greater transcription speed increases automaticity of word production, which in turn lessens the burden on working memory (WM) and enables writers to use the limited capacity of WM for the metacognitive processes needed to create good reader-friendly prose. These findings suggest that models of writing, which emphasize the metacognitive components of writing primarily, should be expanded to include transcription (handwriting automaticity and spelling). The article also evaluates the implications of fluent handwriting to WM, given that even the most fluent handwriting can consume some WM resources and recent research and theory has highlighted the importance of WM to quality writing. Finally, the implications of handwriting and WM to assessment and instruction are discussed.” (p.197)

Peverly, S.T. (2006). The importance of handwriting speed in adult writing. Developmental Neuropsychology, 29(1), 197-216.


 The Clackmannanshire study

300 children for 16 weeks for 20 minutes per day

(a) synthetic phonics program, or (b) analytic phonics program, or (c) analytic phonics plus PA training.

The synthetic phonics taught group were:

(a) reading words around 7 months ahead of the other two groups (7 months > CA)

(b) spelling around 8 to 9 months ahead of the other groups (7 months > CA)

 

By the end of primary school:

  • Gains made in reading increased from 7 months to 3.6 years ahead of chronological age.
  • Gains in spelling increased from 7 months to 1.9 years ahead of chronological age.
  • Synthetic phonics led to children from lower SES being at a similar level to those from advantaged backgrounds
  • Boys performed as well as girls (National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy, 2005)

 


 And the research says a spelling problem is not primarily a visual problem

Spelling difficulty is not a general "visual memory" problem

It is a specific problem with awareness of (and memory for) language structure, including the letters in words.

 


  So how does the brain develop skilled spelling?

  • If alertness to phonemes has begun 
  • and letters of the alphabet are learned
  • and you are able to blend sounds that those letters represent to build words,
  • then left brain’s parieto-temporal region will be used in encoding
  • see/spell the word often - builds a neural model of that word – creating synaptic connections.
  • clarify this neural model in the occipito-temporal region
  • After decoding/encoding the word correctly a number of times, the neural model is an exact replica of the printed word.
  • It reflects the way the word is pronounced, the way it's spelled, and what it means. All these features become bonded together.
  • Spelling and reading build and rely on the same mental representation of a word. Knowing the spelling of a word makes the representation of it sturdy and accessible for fluent reading (Snow et al., 2005)
  • That word is represented in the occipito-temporal region, and its recognition becomes instant & automatic - less than 150 milliseconds (less than a heartbeat)
  • You can’t go straight to the occipito-temporal region without building up the parieto-temporal region (Shaywitz, 2004)

For dyslexic students, irregularity of axonal connectivity between temporo parietal and occipito-temporal regions may be causal in spelling difficulty (Steinbrink et al., 2008).

 

“The finding of pronounced left vOT [left ventral occipitotemporal cortex] activation for the orthographic word spelling condition relative to the control condition speaks for the view that activation of left vOT during spelling can be attributed to the retrieval of orthographic whole-word representations. The position that the left vOT serves as memory store for the spellings of known words also finds support in recent neuroimaging studies of spelling showing that left vOT is sensitive to lexical factors such as word frequency [Rapp and Lipka, 2011; Rapp and Dufor, 2011]…. The location of this orthographic spelling cluster corresponds to the left vOT region typically found to be engaged by visual word reading. These results support the position that left vOT may represent the neuronal equivalent of the cognitive orthographic word lexicon.” (p.8, 13)

Ludersdorfer, P., Kronbichler, M., & Wimmer, H. (2015). Accessing orthographic representations from speech: The role of left ventral occipitotemporal cortex in spelling. Human Brain Mapping, 36(4), 1393-406.

 


 Interesting finding about vocabulary

 

Students who see the spellings of words actually learn the meanings of the words more easily - orthographic knowledge benefits vocabulary learning (Rosenthal & Ehri, 2008).

Implies that we should teach spelling at same time as vocabulary instruction (Ehri & Rosenthal, 2007).

"Results indicate that orthographic knowledge benefited vocabulary learning and diminished dependence on phonological memory. Instructional implications are that teachers should include written words as part of vocabulary instruction and that students should pronounce spellings as well as determine meanings when they encounter new vocabulary words....Students who see the spellings of words actually learn the meanings of the words more easily. ...Orthographic knowledge benefited vocabulary learning and diminished dependence on phonological memory. ...Teachers should include written words as part of vocabulary instruction and that students should pronounce spellings as well as determine meanings when they encounter new vocabulary words."

Rosenthal, J., & Ehri, L.C. (2008). The mnemonic value of orthography for vocabulary learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(1), 175–191.

Traditional vocabulary instruction involves the sequence: Story – spoken word – meaning.

Research suggests: Story – spoken word – meaning – pronounce - spell. Promote the same strategy for silent reading.

 


 What does the research say about the spelling instruction sequence?

 

So, start with the words with 1:1 correspondence i.e., phonemic approach. Creates confidence

Enables spelling nearly half of the words they'll encounter in English.

Then, more complex sound-symbol correspondences from that 37% for which we learn rules and patterns.

The remaining 13% of words are sight words that must be memorized, and can be sprinkled throughout the program.

 “The most effective spelling instruction teaches spelling as a linguistic (rather than visual) ability by directly facilitating key skills that underlie spelling development (Bourassa & Treiman, 2001). There are three metalinguistic skills that are strongly related to spelling acquisition. One metalinguistic skill that is essential to the acquisition of spelling is phonemic awareness, which refers to the ability to reflect on and manipulate single sounds within words (Gillon, 2004). A second important metalinguistic skill for learning spelling is orthographic awareness which includes (1) alphabetic knowledge, for example, ‘sh’ makes the= R =sound; (2) orthographic pattern knowledge, such as knowing that the grapheme ‘ck’ cannot be used in initial position in a syllable; and (3) storage of mental representations of spellings in longterm memory (Apel, Wolter, & Masterson, 2006; Apel, 2011). A third skill that is fundamental for learning to spell is morphological awareness which involves the ability to recognize the parts of words that convey meaning, such as identifying connections in words sharing the same root, such as heal-health (Berninger, Abbott, Nagy, & Carlisle, 2010).” (p. 536)

Kirk, C. (2014). Theoretical beliefs and instructional practices used for teaching spelling in elementary classrooms. Reading & Writing, 27, 535–554.

 


 Unfortunately, we don't routinely offer this type of assistance to students who struggle with spelling. This is especially true for secondary students

“Noticeably absent from these interventions were the direct teaching of phoneme to grapheme correspondences and morphemic approaches, which are often used with students in the elementary grades (Sayeski, 2011; Simonson and Gunter, 2001; Wanzek et al., 2006; Williams et al., 2017). Previous research has also suggested that students who struggle with spelling benefit from being taught explicitly at their developmental level (Simonsen & Gunter, 2001; Schlagal, 2002).” (p. 1)

Williams, K.J., Austin, C.R., & Vaughn, S. (2017). A synthesis of spelling interventions for secondary students with disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 1-38.

 

"Although rote visual memorisation works well as a strategy for learning irregular or ‘hermit’ spellings, it tends to be insufficient to establish spelling patterns in long-term memory, especially where weaker spellers are concerned. The same applies to incidental learning approaches (where spelling is believed to be best learned from broad reading and writing alone). Neither rote visual memorisation or the incidental learning approach lead to the automaticity of recall needed for both reading and writing (Schlagal, 2002; Templeton, 1991; Templeton & Morris, 1999). What is required for automaticity of recall is spelling instruction that is explicit and systematic, focusing on exploring patterns that can be detected in the sound, structure, and meaning features of words, and thus reinforcing and consolidating children’s understanding of how the spelling system works (Graham et al, 2008; Hammond, 2004; Schlagal, 1992; Westwood, 2005, 2008a)." (p. 173)

Mullock, B. (2012). An examination of commercial spelling programs for upper primary level students. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 36 (2), 172-195.

 


 Three layers of information that spelling represents:

1. The alphabetic layer matches letters and sounds in a left-to-right fashion. In tap, the letter-sound match up is obvious

2. The pattern layer operates within syllables, as with the VCe pattern (vowel-consonant-silent e) signaling a long vowel (e.g., tape in contrast to tap).

3. The meaning (morphographic) layer - word parts that are related in meaning are usually spelled consistently, despite changes in pronunciation

  • crumb/crumble,
  • column/columnist,
  • paradigm/paradigmatic,
  • Newton/Newtonian.

Also words sharing a common etymology impugn and pugnacious.

Several meta-analytic evaluations have concluded that morphological instruction is beneficial to all students, but especially so for low progress spellers (Bowers, Kirby, & Deacon, 2010; Carlisle, 2010; Goodwin & Ahn, 2010). It was also noted that effects tended to be higher when instruction took place in small groups, and that effect sizes were larger for younger students (though numbers in this young student category were not high enough to promote confidence in this result).

The spelling program for students with dyslexia should include explicit instruction in phonological, orthographic, and morphological awareness of word forms, their parts, and their interrelationships. Research supported instructional approaches for this goal are widely available (e.g., Bear, Ivernizzi, Templeton, & Johnson, 2000; Dixon & Engelmann, 2001; Fry, 1996; Henry, 2003; Masterson, Apel, Wasowicz, 2002) but not yet widely implemented in individual educational programs for students with dyslexia in upper elementary, middle school and high school (Berninger et al., 2008, p.13).

 

"Recent studies suggest that including word study activities that explicitly teach aspects of morphology in the classroom can enhance students’ spelling ability and interest (Devonshire & Fluck, 2010; Devonshire, Morris, & Fluck, 2013; Diaz, 2010; Vitale, Medland, & Kaniuka, 2010)." (p.8)

Westwood, P. (2015). Spelling: Do the eyes have it? Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 20(1), 3-13.

 

 "This analysis suggests that various types of morphological instruction support literacy achievement, including instruction that builds morphological knowledge by identifying, segmenting, and building with morphemes; teaching students affix and root meanings; teaching morphological patterns that support spelling; and teaching students to analyze compound words (see Goodwin, Lipsky, & Ahn, 2012, for more details).” (p.279-280)

Goodwin, A.P., & Ahn, S. (2013). A meta-analysis of morphological interventions in English: Effects on literacy outcomes for school-age children. Scientific Studies of Reading, 17(4), 257-285.

 

“Morphology is a major organising principle of English and other alphabetic languages, but has been largely neglected in theories of reading acquisition. In this article, I develop the view that learning to appreciate morphological relationships may be a vital part of acquiring a direct mapping between printed words and their meanings, represented in the ventral brain pathway of the reading network. I show that morphology provides an important degree of regularity across this mapping in English, and suggest that this regularity is directly associated with irregularity in the mapping between spelling and sound. I further show that while children in primary school display explicit knowledge of morphological relationships, there is scant evidence they show the rapid morphological analysis of printed words that skilled readers exhibit. These findings suggest that the acquisition of long-term morphological knowledge may be associated with the ongoing development of reading expertise. Implications for reading instruction are discussed.” (p.1)

Rastle, K. (2018). The place of morphology in learning to read in English. Cortex, xxx, 1-10

 

"More research is needed on implementing instructional interventions for SLDs for teaching students in Grades 4 to 9 to read and spell words in English morphophonemic orthography who can learn to do so despite past struggles (Tanimoto, Thompson, Berninger, Nagy, & Abbott, 2015).” (p.154)

Sanders, E.A., Berninger, V.W., & Abbott, R.A. (2018). Sequential prediction of literacy achievement for specific learning disabilities contrasting in impaired levels of language in grades 4 to 9. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 51(2), 137-157.


Spelling programs should employ each of these three layers of information over time as students become capable at each level (Richards et al., 2006).

Since about 60% of the words in English running text are of Latin or Greek origin, employ a systematic study of prefixes, suffixes and root words (Henry, 1997). The benefits accrue in reading fluency, comprehension, and spelling.

 


Effective spelling instruction should include these practices:

  • knowledge of sounds,
  • letter-sound association, patterns, syllables, and meaningful parts;
  • multisensory practice;
  • systematic, cumulative study of patterns;
  • memorizing a few "sight" words at a time;
  • writing those words correctly many times;
  • using the words in personal writing.(Moats, 2000).

 


Effective spelling instructions should also aim for fluency

Learning to the level of automaticity (where they don't have to think about it) requires a higher level of learning than simple accuracy (eventually being able to get it correct).

Write words from dictation (hear/write) 15 – 10 words /min

Write words in a category (free/write) 15 – 10 words / min (Binder, Haughton, & Bateman, 2002).


The poorest spellers, even older ones, need basic work in phonological awareness and the alphabetic principle as well as instruction in the regularities of spelling at the level of morphology.

 


 The RMIT Psychology Clinic uses the Direct Instruction spelling programs (Dixon & Engelmann):

  • Spelling Mastery (publisher McGraw Hill):

A six level developmental program – initial level determined by a placement test.

Differs from other spelling approaches in:

  • the approach to content,
  •  the organization of lessons, and
  • the method of lesson delivery.

Employs three approaches to spelling: phonemic, whole‑word, and morphemic.

 "In this study, Spelling Mastery was shown to have a significant effect on trained spelling regular words, morphological words, and words that followed spelling rules and generalized to untaught regularly spelled word and untaught words that followed the spelling rules. Moreover, these 8- to 12-year-old students who had a learning disability in spelling maintained their progress on words that followed spelling rules, suggesting that the Spelling Mastery was effective in teaching students to pay attention to the patterns that occur in words. However, there was a lack of significant findings and smaller effects for irregular words at both posttest and maintenance” (p. 8, 9).

Squires, K.E., & Wolter, J.A. (2016). The effects of orthographic pattern intervention on spelling performance of students with reading disabilities: A best evidence synthesis. Remedial and Special Education, 1-13. Published online before print March 1, 2016, doi: 10.1177/0741932516631115


  • Spelling through Morphographs (also known as Morphographic Spelling) - publisher McGraw Hill:

A 140 lesson remedial program designed to teach students a generative spelling strategy. It emphasises morphographic word analysis, that is, an analysis of prefixes, suffixes and roots – and the ways in which they are combined in words. Suitable for students from Year 4 to adult. Excellent for secondary schools.

 Morph

Change in brain function after 14 one-hour sessions based on Spelling through Morphographs.

 

Explicit spelling instruction is beneficial even to above average spellers

“ … the design strategy of using DI programs with above-average student populations has much to recommend it because in such settings, implementations with fidelity can be accomplished more readily, and under such circumstances the academic gains resulting from DI programs can be magnified.” (p.25)

Vitale, M.R., Medland, M.B., & Kaniuka, T.S. (2010). Implementing Spelling with Morphographs with above-average students in Grade 2: Implications for DI of comparisons with demographically similar control students in Grades 2-3-4-5. Journal of Direct Instruction, 10(1), 17-28.

 


 Morphographs in DI programs

For example, if you teach these elements: Prefixes: re un dis Bases: cover pute Suffixes: ed able – and a few rules for combining them - the following words can be spelled: recover, recoverable, recovered, unrecoverable, unrecovered, repute, reputable, reputed, disreputable, disrepute, covetable, covered, uncover, uncoverable, uncovered, discover, discoverable, discovered, undiscoverable, undiscovered, dispute, disputable, disputed, undisputable, undisputed, etc.

80% of all words readers encounter have one or more affixes (Cunningham, 1998).

Most, though not all morphographs share the same spelling wherever they occur, as in (cover and un). Some words do change their spelling in different words, but the changes are rule-based and can be readily determined. So, pute drops the e in disputable; however, students learn a rule to determine when this is to occur. Five or six hundred morphographs combine to form thousands of words. Because students need to have knowledge of phonemic and whole word strategies to make the most of the morphographic approach, it is not introduced until Level C of Spelling Mastery, and from Levels D to F it becomes the main approach, though both the phonemic and whole word strategies continue to be developed.


Some interesting spelling rules

The sound /ik/ will be spelled "ick" as in trick, thick, flick, sick, Rick, brick as long as it is a one syllable word. If it is at the end of the second syllable or more, it is spelled "ic" as in panic, magic, fantastic, Titanic, etc.

The ending that sounds like /us/ is spelled "us" or "ous" at the end of a word. As in famous, abacus, mountainous, fungus, rebus, tremendous

How does one know when to use which spelling?

If it is a noun, use "us" if it is an adjective use "ous"

Exploration of word families is valuable to evoke reading and spelling by analogy. Rules are useful to explain our writing system but don’t explain what good readers actually do when they come across an unfamiliar word. Rules can be a scaffold until familiarity takes over.

 


For older children

" ... there has not been as much research on the effects of spelling for older students. Spelling instruction has reportedly received little attention at any grade level (Cooke, Slee, & Young, 2008), but particularly so in grades 8–12 (Foorman & Petscher, 2010).” (p.652)

Reed, D.K., Petscher, Y., & Foorman, B.R. (2016). The contribution of vocabulary knowledge and spelling to the reading comprehension of adolescents who are and are not English language learners. Reading and Writing, 29(4), 633-657.

“Writing provides a means for personal reflection, thinking, creativity, meaning-making and sharing, as well as complementing other modes of communication in a world of multimodal texts. While writing in the digital age has become increasingly fast-paced and exposed to global scrutiny, being able to write efficiently with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation remains a critical part of being a literate writer. This article uses data from 819 Australian primary school students to explore the relationship between three language conventions, namely spelling, grammar and punctuation as measured by the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) Language Conventions Test, and the quality of written composition, as measured by the NAPLAN Writing Test. Results indicate that spelling, grammar and punctuation jointly predict written composition achievement with spelling as the main predictor. Implications for the educational practice of writing in the contemporary context are discussed, emphasising the importance of spelling in relation to writing and how instruction in spelling, during senior primary school, appears to be critical for written composition improvement.”  (p.75)

Daffern, T., Mackenzie, N.M., & Hemmings, B. (2017). Predictors of writing success: How important are spelling, grammar and punctuation? Australian Journal of Education, 61(1), 75–87.

 


 What about dyslexia and spelling?

A poor grasp of the relationships between letters and sounds makes it difficult to read new words or nonwords through ‘building’ words from their elements (Eglinton, & Annett, 2008).

Eglinton, E. & Annett, M. (2008). Good phonetic errors in poor spellers are associated with right-handedness and possible weak utilisation of visuospatial abilities. Cortex, 44, 737-745.

For dyslexic students, irregularity of axonal connectivity between temporo-parietal and occipito-temporal regions may be causal in spelling difficulty (Steinbrink et al., 2008).

 


Some interesting advice on error correction and practice

If he just needs more practice, then don't have him copy words. Instead dictate them.

Working on a small whiteboard makes it fun, and eliminates copying from elsewhere on the paper. As soon as he makes a mistake, do the following correction procedure.

1.         Show him his error (you wrote it like this) and show the correct way to spell the word instead right next to it (and it is spelled like this). This is called error imitation and it has strong research support. You could even have him articulate where he differed from correct.

2.         Have him spell it to you while looking at the correct spelling.

3.         Then erase the word and have him say the sounds in the word, holding up a finger for each sound. (Making sure he is hearing all the sounds correctly).

4.         Then have him write it correctly from memory. Check and confirm that it's correct.

5.         Now have him spell the word orally from memory.

Work on a list in parts of about 4 or 5 words. And firm each part (once through those 4 or 5 words without an error) before going on.

Don Crawford (Mastering Math Facts, & Word Problems Made Easy)

 

Some quotes on spelling


 How might spelling progress best be promoted?

 

“The most effective spelling instruction teaches spelling as a linguistic (rather than visual) ability by directly facilitating key skills that underlie spelling development (Bourassa & Treiman, 2001). There are three metalinguistic skills that are strongly related to spelling acquisition. One metalinguistic skill that is essential to the acquisition of spelling is phonemic awareness, which refers to the ability to reflect on and manipulate single sounds within words (Gillon, 2004). A second important metalinguistic skill for learning spelling is orthographic awareness which includes (1) alphabetic knowledge, for example, ‘sh’ makes the //sound; (2) orthographic pattern knowledge, such as knowing that the grapheme ‘ck’ cannot be used in initial position in a syllable; and (3) storage of mental representations of spellings in longterm memory (Apel, Wolter, & Masterson, 2006; Apel, 2011). A third skill that is fundamental for learning to spell is morphological awareness which involves the ability to recognize the parts of words that convey meaning, such as identifying connections in words sharing the same root, such as heal-health (Berninger, Abbott, Nagy, & Carlisle, 2010).” (p.536)

McNeill, B., & Kirk, C. (2014). Theoretical beliefs and instructional practices used for teaching spelling in elementary classrooms. Reading & Writing, 27, 535–554.

 


"Despite the importance of spelling for both writing and reading, there is considerable disagreement regarding how spelling skills are best acquired. During this and virtually all of the last century, some scholars have argued that spelling should not be directly or formally taught as such instruction is not effective or efficient. We conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of experimental and quasi-experimental studies to address these claims. The corpus of 53 studies in this review included 6,037 students in kindergarten through 12th grade and yielded 58 effect sizes (ESs) that were used to answer eight research questions concerning the impact of formally teaching spelling on spelling, phonological awareness, reading, and writing performance. An average weighted ES was calculated for each question and the quality of included studies was systematically evaluated. Results provided strong and consistent support for teaching spelling, as it improved spelling performance when compared to no/unrelated instruction (ES = 0.54) or informal/incidental approaches to improving spelling performance (ES = 0.43). Increasing the amount of formal spelling instruction also proved beneficial (ES = 0.70). Gains in spelling were maintained over time (ES = 0.53) and generalized to spelling when writing (ES = 0.94). Improvements in phonological awareness (ES = 0.51) and reading skills (ES = 0.44) were also found. The positive outcomes associated with formal spelling instruction were generally consistent, regardless of students’ grade level or literacy skills" (p.1703).

Graham, S., & Santangelo, T. (2014). Does spelling instruction make students better spellers, readers, and writers? A meta-analytic review. Reading and Writing, 27(9), 1703-1743.


“Berninger and Richards (2002) proposed that the reading brain is initially constructed as children learn to relate existing phonological word forms to orthographic word forms, and during this process create memories of written word forms. In research on learning and teaching spelling, this stage is referred to as the phonological stage of spelling (Moats, 2000 and Templeton and Bear, 1992). This phonological stage involves encoding of phonemes into graphemes (1- and 2-letter spelling units). In the process of repeated encodings, typical spellers begin to create precise representations of all the constituent letters in the written word spelling (whether or not the letters relate to a phoneme in a one-to-one way). With sufficient practice in spelling written words, these representations in long-term memory organize as an autonomous orthographic lexicon that can be accessed automatically without the intervening phonological encoding process. Mental computations of the interrelationships among phonological, morphological, and orthographic words forms create mental maps of the word-specific orthographic word forms that underlie this autonomous orthographic lexicon (e.g. Berninger et al., 2001 and Nagy et al., 2003). Thus, triple word form theory (Richards et al., in press) is relevant to understanding how the autonomous orthographic lexicon underlying automatic spelling and fluent reading emerges from the earlier phonological stage—instead of relying only on phonological–orthographic mappings, children begin to rely on phonological–morphological–orthographic mappings. When children rely on the autonomous orthographic lexicon rather than phonological encoding, they have entered the orthographic stage of spelling development (see Moats, 2000 and Templeton and Bear, 1992). However, mature spelling requires an additional stage of spelling development. Because English is a morphophonemic language (Venezky, 1970 and Venezky, 1999), English spelling relies greatly on morphological rules that require analysis of vowel and consonant patterns at the end of base words that influence whether letters are dropped or added when adding suffixes (e.g. Dixon & Engelmann, 2001). Nagy and colleagues (e.g. Nagy et al., 1993) have conducted programmatic research for nearly two decades on the typical developmental course from simple to complex morphological processing that affects word reading and spelling and have shown that the morphological processing begins to contribute in a substantial way around grade 4 but continues to develop through the high school years and possibly even beyond” (p.3).

“ … research is needed on whether stages of spelling development are discrete stages or overlapping, cascading phases of progression from phonological to orthographic to morphological processing and whether the progression is parallel or distinct for reading and spelling” (p.78). … Regions involved in spelling may change over development. Both good spellers and dyslexics in this study of upper elementary grade children activated the right IFG and right parietal regions including angular gyrus, whereas adults in the studies discussed earlier tended to activate the left side of these regions (p.80). … the results show that an instructional component that emphasizes orthographic strategies may be effective in changing the orthographic mapping related to spelling at the orthographic stage of spelling development. However, the child dyslexics also appear to need specialized instruction for the phonological processes involved in spelling to normalize their phoneme mapping. The benefits of morphological treatment for spelling may not be detected in brain response of child dyslexics in the upper elementary grade levels, at least not until they master or reach reasonable proficiency in the earlier phonological encoding and orthographic spelling stages” (p.82).

Richards, T., Aylward, E., Berninger, V., Field, K., Grimme, A.C., Parsons, A., Richards, A.L., Nagy, W. (2006). Individual fMRI activation in orthographic mapping and morpheme mapping after orthographic or morphological spelling treatment in child dyslexics. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 19(1), 56–86.

 


“When children start to learn to read English, they benefit from learning grapheme–phoneme correspondences. As they become more skilled, they use larger graphophonic units and morphemes in word recognition and spelling. We hypothesized that these 2 types of units in decoding make independent contributions to children’s reading comprehension and fluency and that the use of morphological units is the stronger predictor of both measures. In a longitudinal study with a large sample in the United Kingdom, we tested through multiple regressions the contributions that these different units make to the prediction of reading competence (reading comprehension and fluency). The predictors were measured when the children were aged 8–9 years. Reading comprehension and rate were measured concurrently, and reading list fluency was measured at 12 and 13 years. After controlling for age and verbal IQ, the children’s use of larger graphophonic units and their use of morphemes in reading and spelling made independent contributions to predicting their reading comprehension and reading fluency. The use of morphemes was the stronger predictor in all analyses. Thus, teaching that promotes the development of these different ways of reading and spelling words should be included in policy and practice.” (p.959).

Nunes, T., Bryant, P., & Barros, R. (2012). The development of word recognition and its significance for comprehension and fluency. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 959-973.

 


 Predicting spelling progress

 

Al Otaiba and colleagues examined the predictors of early spelling. This study involved an economically and ethnically diverse sample of nearly 300 kindergarteners. The students spelled three types of words: irregular high-frequency words, decodable real words, and decodable pseudowords. Overall, results from their three-step hierarchical regression indicated that home literacy, parental education, demographic factors, and conventional literacy skills, accounted for 66% of the variance in spelling scores. The single strongest spring predictor was a one minute letter-sound fluency test. Researchers scored the spellings to allow partial credit for invented spelling, which made the test more sensitive to differences and less susceptible to floor effects, which is important for poor spellers and potentially for students with reading disabilities.

Al Otaiba, S., Puranik, C., Rouby, D.A., Greulich, L., Sidler, J.F., & Lee, J. (2010). Predicting kindergarteners' end-of-year spelling ability based on their reading, alphabetic, vocabulary, and phonological awareness skills. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(3), 171-183.

 


" … pseudo-word reading has been shown to be among the best predictors of spelling from dictation in primary grade children (Berninger, Yates, Cartwright, Rutberg, Remy, & Abbott, 1992)."

Hart, T. M., Berninger, V. M., & Abbott, R. D. (1997). Comparison of teaching single or multiple orthographic-phonological connections for word recognition and spelling: Implications for instructional consultation. School Psychology Review, 26(2), 279-297.

 


 Assessing spelling

 

"The inclusion of a spelling measure is based on the strong association between early spelling ability, phonological awareness, and beginning reading (Ehri & Wilce, 1987). Phonological awareness training employing segmenting and spelling should, logically, cause growth in spelling as a form of phonological recoding."

Uhry, J.K., & Shepherd, M.J. (1997). Teaching phonological recoding to young children with phonological processing deficits: The effects on sight vocabulary acquisition. Learning Disability Quarterly, 20, 104-125.

 


“There are three ways to assess spelling (Masterson & Apel, 2000): dictation (someone says a word out loud and the student spells it), connected writing (from text that the student writes), and recognition (when students are asked to select the correct spelling of a word from different choices). How one performs on one type of test may not indicate how well one might perform on another type of test. Moats (1994) noted that a good spelling test provides both descriptive and diagnostic information and, therefore, must include many items in order to adequately sample the different types of spelling knowledge an individual possesses. However, according to Moats, most spelling assessments do not adequately sample spelling knowledge, with most spelling dictation tests including only 25-50 words (Masterson & Apel, 2000). Similarly, spelling tests that ask students to write connected text cannot cover the entire gamut of spelling patterns, thereby ensuring that all types of spelling knowledge are adequately sampled (p.159). … Perhaps it is impossible for one standardized test to cover the types of orthographic skills that are needed for good spelling. Thus, this study points to the possibility that similar to reading and mathematics, spelling cannot be adequately assessed with only one standardized test. For example, when a child is targeted for diagnostic reading tests, s/he is scheduled for multiple tests such as word recognition, decoding, and comprehension. Similarly, researchers and teachers should be aware that a singular standardized spelling test may not provide the range of items necessary to understand the specific spelling strengths and weaknesses of students across all orthographic patterns”. (p.168)

Calhoon, M.B., Greenberg, D., & Hunter, C.V. (2010). A comparison of standardized spelling assessments: Do they measure similar orthographic qualities? Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(3), 159-170.

 


 “A synergistic relation between these skills is evidenced by gains that are observed when instruction integrates spelling within reading instruction (Santoro, Coyne, & Simmons, 2006; Treiman, 1998; Uhry & Shepherd, 1993; Weiser & Mathes, 2011). The assessment of beginning spelling skills can serve as a window into students' early reading development (Ouellette & Sénéchal, 2008b; Treiman, 1998) and may provide information on students' knowledge and ability to apply foundational reading skills in ways that conventional reading assessments may not (Apel, Thomas-Tate, Wilson-Fowler, & Brimo, 2012). As part of a more comprehensive approach to reading assessment, spelling may help identify specific skill deficits and inform intervention strategies for struggling students (Al Otaiba & Hosp, 2010; Masterson & Apel, 2010a; Moats, 1993; Robbins, Hosp, Hosp, & Flynn, 2010). …Although close interrelations between spelling and reading development are well established, this knowledge is not often extended to the application of spelling assessment with beginning readers. Consistent with prior work, this study demonstrated that kindergarten spelling skills are highly associated with reading subskills, both on a concurrent and a predictive basis, and may provide unique information on students' early literacy functioning and in the prediction of subsequent reading skills over that provided by traditional reading assessments alone. Scoring metrics designed to be sensitive to partial or invented spelling afford some advantages over simply tallying the number of words spelled correctly and are more sensitive to students' phonological awareness skills. Although scoring metrics were relatively similar in their relations to early reading, practitioners should consider their alignment with the goals and purpose of the assessment when selecting a metric for scoring spelling responses. Like scholars who have called for the integration of spelling and reading instruction (e.g., Moats, 2005; Santoro et al., 2006; Treiman, 1998), we advocate for greater utilization of spelling assessment to inform more comprehensive reading evaluations.” (p. 50, 59)

Clemens, N. H., Oslund, E. L., Simmons, L. E., & Simmons, D. C. (2014). Assessing spelling in kindergarten: Further comparison of scoring metrics and their relation to reading skills. Journal of School Psychology, 52, 49-61.

 


“The spelling tests that are often used for educational and research purposes score productions as correct or incorrect, but such scoring is not ideal for young children. For example, although ktis not the correct spelling of cut, it reveals more knowledge than ct for cut, which in turns reveals more knowledge than vvvvor a squiggle. The development of tests and scoring methods that are sensitive to different levels of knowledge can help in grouping children for instruction, predicting which children are likely to have difficulties in the future, and providing extra help to those who need it. Several of our recent studies have examined methods of scoring young childrens spellings and the ability of these measures to predict future performance, and more work along these lines is needed (Kessler et al., 2013; Treiman, Kessler, Pollo, Byrne, & Olson, 2016). With better measures of spelling itself, we may need to rely less on other measures.” (p. 10-11)

Treiman, R. (2017). Learning to spell words: Findings, theories, and issues. Scientific Studies of Reading. Published online: 08 Mar 2017

 


So, do we need more assessments following the principle below? It is known as a mixed method, one that recognises partial spellings. Hence, partial correctness earns some points.

For example, in conventional scoring, misspelling dress as dres is as wrong as jrs, yet the first response is superior to the second, and may represent an improvement over the spelling in an earlier phase of an intervention. So, points could be scored for successively better approximations to a word, as below, providing a clearer picture of progress monitoring.

Spelling levels

1 point            2                            3                                4                    5 points

s                      js                          jrs                              dres                  dress

y                      yl                         yel                               wil                     will

t                       bt                        bot                               baot                 boat

 
This method is more demanding to score, so one would expect that is offers more accurate estimates of student progress, and better predictions of subsequent levels of success.More research is required to definitively answer this question. One study by Treiman et al. did not find improved predictions of subsequent success.
 

“To determine whether some methods of scoring children’s early spellings predict later spelling performance better than do other methods, we analyzed data from 374 U.S. and Australian children who took a 10-word spelling test at the end of kindergarten (mean age 6 years, 2 months) and a standardized spelling test approximately two years later. Surprisingly, scoring methods that took account of phonological plausibility did not outperform methods that were based only on orthographic correctness. The scoring method that is most widely used in research with young children, which allots a certain number of points to each word and which considers both orthographic and phonological plausibility, did not rise to the top as a predictor. Prediction of Grade 2 spelling performance was improved to a small extent by considering children’s tendency to reverse letters in kindergarten.” (p.349)

Treiman, R., Kessler, B., Pollo, T. C., Byrne, B., & Olson, R. K. (2016). Measures of kindergarten spelling and their relations to later spelling performance. Scientific Studies of Reading, 20(5), 349–362.

 


 The reading and spelling relationship: The value of phonics

 

“The important role found for phonological recoding skill in this study is consistent with models of reading, which highlight the quasi-regular nature of irregular words (e.g., connectionist models of word reading). However, irregular word spelling was well predicted by both orthographic processing skills and nonword reading skill, suggesting that higher-quality lexical representations, in addition to phonological recoding skills, are important for spelling irregular words.”

McGeown, S. P., Johnston, R. S., & Moxon, G. E. (2014). Towards an understanding of how children read and spell irregular words: the role of nonword and orthographic processing skills. Journal of Research in Reading, 37, 51-64. doi:10.1111/jrir.12007.

 


“The reciprocal relationship between spelling and reading: Initially, all of their skills were bottom up, driven by phonological awareness, letter knowledge, and some kind of mapping skill. But as they became more proficient spellers they also became more proficient decoders, and then eventually it was the decoding and the word recognition skills that started to impact on their ability to complete the orthographic representations, the spellings, according to English conventions”.

Caravolas, M. (2008). Children of the Code interview. http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/caravolas.htm

 


“Overall, the group taught by synthetic phonics had better word reading, spelling, and reading comprehension. There was no evidence that the synthetic phonics approach, which early on teaches children to blend letter sounds in order to read unfamiliar words, led to any impairment in the reading of irregular words (p. 1365).

“It was found in Study 1 that, after 6 years at school, children taught by the synthetic phonics approach read words, spelt words and had reading comprehension skills significantly in advance of those taught by the analytic phonics method. This shows that despite English being an opaque orthography, children are not impaired when taught by an approach to reading that is common in transparent orthographies“(p.1378).

“The analytic phonics approach, having an early sight word element and late teaching of sounding and blending, may lead to some children reading largely by a form of sight word reading underpinned only by superficial connections between print and sounds” (p.1382).

“This present study makes an important contribution to documenting the longterm effects of synthetic phonics teaching. Maintaining the gain in word reading for age would have been noteworthy, but in fact it increased over time, leading to a high level of attainment at the age of 10” (p. 1384).

 

Johnston, R.S., McGeown, S., & Watson, J.E. (2012). Long-term effects of synthetic versus analytic phonics teaching on the reading and spelling ability of 10 year old boys and girls. Reading & Writing, 25(6), 1365-1384.

 


“Phonological decoding made a significant unique contribution to reading comprehension for the eighth/ninth-grade group, to spelling for the fourth/fifth- and eighth/ninth-grade groups, and to the decoding rate and accuracy measures for all three groups, with only three exceptions”.

Nagy, W., Berninger, V.W., & Abbott, R.D. (2006). Contributions of morphology beyond phonology to literacy outcomes of upper elementary and middle-school students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 134-147.

 


“Spelling reflects linguistic understanding of speech sounds” (p. 137).

Edwards, L. (2003). Writing instruction in kindergarten: Examining an emerging area of research for children with writing and reading difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36, 136-148.

 


“We propose that relations between phonemic awareness and spelling skills are bidirectional: Spelling influenced growth in phonemic awareness and phonemic awareness contributed to growth in spelling skills”.

Hecht, S.A, & Close, L. (2002). Emergent literacy skills and training time uniquely predict variability in responses to phonemic awareness training in disadvantaged kindergartners. J. Experimental Child Psychology, 82, 93–115.

 


"Phonological decoding proved to have the largest influence on spelling ability, whereas orthographic knowledge was of minor significance."

Schulte-Korne, G., Deimel, W., & Remschmidt, H. (1997). The importance of phonological decoding and orthographical knowledge for spelling ability in adults. Zeitschrift fur Klinische Psychologie, 26, 210-217.

 


"Despite the importance of spelling for both writing and reading, there is considerable disagreement regarding how spelling skills are best acquired. During this and virtually all of the last century, some scholars have argued that spelling should not be directly or formally taught as such instruction is not effective or efficient. We conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis of experimental and quasi-experimental studies to address these claims. The corpus of 53 studies in this review included 6,037 students in kindergarten through 12th grade and yielded 58 effect sizes (ESs) that were used to answer eight research questions concerning the impact of formally teaching spelling on spelling, phonological awareness, reading, and writing performance. An average weighted ES was calculated for each question and the quality of included studies was systematically evaluated. Results provided strong and consistent support for teaching spelling, as it improved spelling performance when compared to no/unrelated instruction (ES = 0.54) or informal/incidental approaches to improving spelling performance (ES = 0.43). Increasing the amount of formal spelling instruction also proved beneficial (ES = 0.70). Gains in spelling were maintained over time (ES = 0.53) and generalized to spelling when writing (ES = 0.94). Improvements in phonological awareness (ES = 0.51) and reading skills (ES = 0.44) were also found. The positive outcomes associated with formal spelling instruction were generally consistent, regardless of students’ grade level or literacy skills" (p.1703).

Graham, S., & Santangelo, T. (2014). Does spelling instruction make students better spellers, readers, and writers? A meta-analytic review. Reading and Writing, 27(9), 1703-1743.
 


“When children start to learn to read English, they benefit from learning grapheme–phoneme correspondences. As they become more skilled, they use larger graphophonic units and morphemes in word recognition and spelling. We hypothesized that these 2 types of units in decoding make independent contributions to children’s reading comprehension and fluency and that the use of morphological units is the stronger predictor of both measures. In a longitudinal study with a large sample in the United Kingdom, we tested through multiple regressions the contributions that these different units make to the prediction of reading competence (reading comprehension and fluency). The predictors were measured when the children were aged 8–9 years. Reading comprehension and rate were measured concurrently, and reading list fluency was measured at 12 and 13 years. After controlling for age and verbal IQ, the children’s use of larger graphophonic units and their use of morphemes in reading and spelling made independent contributions to predicting their reading comprehension and reading fluency. The use of morphemes was the stronger predictor in all analyses. Thus, teaching that promotes the development of these different ways of reading and spelling words should be included in policy and practice (p.959).

Nunes, T., Bryant, P., & Barros, R. (2012). The development of word recognition and its significance for comprehension and fluency. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 959-973.

 


“Spelling and writing are incorporated in some reading interventions because the skills associated with successful reading—such as phonological knowledge, text structure knowledge, and reasoning—also play a role in spelling and writing (Abbott & Berninger, 1993; Graham, Harris, & Chorzempa, 2002; Wanzek et al., 2006) (p.166). … Following a pattern of findings in which studies that are more rigorous yield smaller effects than those that are less rigorous (Swanson, Hoskyn, & Lee, 1999), the small effects noted for extensive interventions were notably lower than effects reported in previous syntheses of reading interventions for adolescents (p.186).

Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N.K., Metz, K., Murray, C.S., Roberts, G., & Danielson, L. (2013). Extensive reading interventions for students with reading difficulties after Grade 3. Review of Educational Research 8(2), 163-195.

 


“ … research has shown that learning to spell and learning to read rely on much of the same underlying knowledge — such as the relationships between letters and sounds — and, not surprisingly, that spelling instruction can be designed to help children better understand that key knowledge, resulting in better reading. Catherine Snow et al. summarize the real importance of spelling for reading as follows: “Spelling and reading build and rely on the same mental representation of a word. Knowing the spelling of a word makes the representation of it sturdy and accessible for fluent reading.” In fact, Ehri and Snowling found that the ability to read words “by sight” (i.e. automatically) rests on the ability to map letters and letter combinations to sounds. Because words are not very visually distinctive (for example, car, can, cane), it is impossible for children to memorize more than a few dozen words unless they have developed insights into how letters and sounds correspond. Learning to spell requires instruction and gradual integration of information about print, speech sounds, and meaning — these, in turn, support memory for whole words, which is used in both spelling and sight reading.”

Moats, L.C. (2005). How spelling supports reading. American Educator, Winter 2005/06, 12-43. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/how-spelling-supports-reading


“The results from Study II replicated those from Study I, indicating that (a) level of word identification and level of spelling are equal, (b) level of pseudoword decoding (or word attack) and level of ability to pronounce unknown real words are equal, (c) level of word identification equals the average of the level of reading and the level of pseudoword decoding, and (d) level of reading equals the average of the level of listening and the level of word identification. These data, along with previously collected data, suggest that measures of the aforementioned reading-related variables are so closely connected that (a) highly reliable measures of spelling level and word attack level for a student could be used to estimate or predict that student’s levels of reading, listening, and word identification, and (b) highly reliable measures of reading level and word identification level for a student could be used to estimate or predict that student’s levels of listening, spelling, and word attack.” (p. 127)

Carver, R.P. (2003). The highly lawful relationships among pseudoword decoding, word identification, spelling, listening, and reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 7(2), 127–15

 


“There is a close relationship between reading and spelling (the correlation between the two is quite strong, ranging from 0.66 to 0.90. Contrary to the perception of English as a language with arbitrary spelling, nearly 50 percent of English words are predictable on sound-letter correspondences that can be taught, and another 34 percent of words are predictable except for one sound. Knowing these patterns makes spelling predictable.”

Joshi, R. M., Treiman, R., Carreker, S., & Moats, L.C. (2008). How words cast their spell. American Educator, 8-18, 42-43.

 


“Spelling skills emerged as the best consistent predictor of variability in phonemic awareness in response to instruction. We propose that relations between phonemic awareness and spelling skills are bidirectional: Spelling influenced growth in phonemic awareness and phonemic awareness contributed to growth in spelling skills. The amount of exposure that children had to the treatment intervention contributed uniquely to individual differences in posttest levels of phonemic awareness and spelling.”

Hecht, S.A., & Close, L. (2002). Emergent literacy skills and training time uniquely predict variability in responses to phonemic awareness training in disadvantaged kindergartners. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 82, 93–115.

 


“At both grade levels (3rd & 5th) there were high, significant correlations between spelling and reading variables, with spelling variables accounting for from 40% to 60% of the variance in oral reading measures and a smaller, but still significant percentage of the variance when standardized test scores were used as a control. These results confirm a strong relationship between spelling skill and oral reading ability, supporting the argument that a common body of conceptual word knowledge underlies both.”

Zutell, J., & Rasinski, T. (1989). Reading and spelling connections in third and fifth grade students. Reading Psychology, 10(2), 137 – 155.

 


 “A novel intervention was developed to teach reading and spelling literacy to 5 to 7 year-old students using explicit instruction of morphology, etymology, phonology, and form rules.We examined the effects of the intervention compared to a phonics-based condition using a cross-over design with a baseline measure. One hundred and twenty children attending an English state funded primary school were randomly allocated either to a traditional phonics condition followed by the novel intervention, or to the novel intervention followed by the phonics condition. The novel intervention significantly improved the literacy skills of the children including both word reading and spelling compared with the phonics condition. We conclude that early teaching of English literacy should include instruction in morphology, etymology and rules about form in addition to traditional phonics. We suggest that the results of the study could inform future policy on the teaching of English literacy skills.” (p.85)

Devonshire, V., Morris, P., & Fluck, M. (2013). Spelling and reading development: The effect of teaching children multiple levels of representation in their orthography. Learning and Instruction, 25, 85-94.

 


 "A compelling interpretation of the present results is that the superior phonological coding skills of good adult spellers directly or indirectly foster the acquisition of more accurate or complete knowledge of word spellings during reading. … Phonological coding skills may exert a direct effect on spelling by virtue of the mnemonic utility of phonological coding in retaining the sequence of letters and syllables in a novel word. … Phonological skills may exert indirect effects [on spelling] through a facilitation of orthographic processing in reading, in the sense that converting a letter string to a phonological representation during reading acquisition, and perhaps during skilled reading, involves a detailed sequential analysis of a letter string."." (p.36-7)

Burt, J. S., & Butterworth, P. (1996). Spelling in adults: Orthographic transparency, learning new letter string and reading accuracy. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 8(1), 3-43.

 


"Phonemic analysis training will improve spelling even without drill on conventional spellings."

Treiman, R. (1993). Beginning to spell. New York: Oxford U Press.

 


  "Subjects with impressive gains in segmentation skill moved faster through the sequence of non-phonetic error to phonetic error to correct response in reading and spelling compared to the segmenters with low growth." (p. 85-86)

Foorman, B. R., & Francis, D. J. (1994). Exploring connections among reading, spelling, and phonemic segmentation during first grade. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 6, 65-91.

 


“...It would appear that facilitation effects between segmentation and spelling are bidirectional. That is, learning to spell raises children’s conscious awareness of the phonemic structure of spoken words, and learning to segment spoken words provides insights in how to use these phonemic elements in spelling” (p.155).

Davidson, M., & Jenkins, J. R. (1994). Effects of phonemic processes on word reading and spelling. Journal of Educational Research, 87, 148-157.

 


“Spelling problems, like reading problems, originate with language learning weaknesses. Spelling disability does not reflect a general "visual memory" problem but a more specific problem with awareness of and memory for language structure, including the letters in words. People who are poor spellers typically have trouble analyzing the sounds, syllables, and meaningful parts of words in both spoken language and written language. In addition, they often have trouble learning other types of symbolic codes such as math facts and math operation signs”.

Moats, L.C. (2008). Spelling problems and dyslexia. Retrieved from www.ldonline.org/article/24882

 


"The spelling problem of children who are good readers but poor spellers is not limited to problems in selecting the correct grapheme from a pool of plausible alternatives which correspond to the phonological representation of the word, but rather results from a more general problem in knowledge and use of sound-spelling correspondences." (p. 529)

Waters, G. S., Bruck, M., & Seidenberg, M. (1985). Do children use similar processes to read and spell words. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 39, 511-530.

 


 More on how spelling and reading are related?

"When preschool to high school students were taught how to read, 19 out of every 20 studies produced a positive effect at posttest, resulting in meaningful improvements on a composite measures of overall writing performance as well as on specific measures of writing quality, spelling, and writing output." (p.26-27)

Graham, S., Liu, X., Bartlett, B., Ng, C., Harris, K.R., Aitken, A., Barkel, A., Kavanaugh, C., & Talukdar, J. (2018). Reading for writing: A meta-analysis of the impact of reading interventions on writing. Review of Educational Research. Online First.

 


“ … the ability to read words correctly may facilitate the creation of precise, word-specific representations in long-term memory; these representations can be accessed during spelling and increase the probability of spelling words correctly especially words with silent letters or alterations in phoneme-spelling relationships that must be learned for specific word contexts (see Berninger, Abbott, et al., 1998; Berninger, Vaughn, et al., 1998).”

Berninger, V.W., Abbott, R.D., Abbott, S.P., Graham, S., & Richards, T. (2002). Writing and reading: Connections between language by hand and language by eye. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35, 39-56.

 


“Spelling is often included as a part of multi-component interventions and improvements in spelling cannot be attributed to the spelling component only. A fine line exists between reading and spelling instruction and it is often difficult to separate the two (Ehri, 2000). In the future, it may be of interest to conduct component analyses to determine the separate and additive impact of spelling and reading or writing interventions on spelling, reading, and writing outcomes.” (p. 22)

Williams, K.J., Austin, C.R., & Vaughn, S. (2017). A synthesis of spelling interventions for secondary students with disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 1-38.

 


 “Both decoding and spelling rely on knowledge of the grapho-phonemic patterns of the language (Robbins, Hosp, Hosp, & Flynn, 2010). A review of research found that integrating decoding and spelling instruction in the lower elementary grades led to significant gains in phonemic awareness, alphabetic decoding, word reading, fluency, and comprehension (Weiser & Mathes, 2011). Moreover, the authors believed the spelling instruction might have fostered closer attention to the details of words’ orthographic representations. This seems supported by the results of a longitudinal study of children from ages 8–9 to ages 12–13 in which independent contributions to reading comprehension were made by children’s ability to use larger graphophonic units and morphemes to decode words (Nunes, Bryant, & Barros, 2012).” (p. 636)

Reed, D.K., Petscher, Y., & Foorman, B.R. (2016). The contribution of vocabulary knowledge and spelling to the reading comprehension of adolescents who are and are not English language learners. Reading and Writing, 29, 633–657.

 


“The Government notes the Committee's point on the issues with a definition of Dyslexia. The Expert Advisory Group established by Sir Jim Rose in preparation of his independent report considered many published definitions of dyslexia. They concluded that difficulties of a dyslexic nature can affect children across the range of intellectual abilities. This represents an important shift away from reliance on a discrepancy between measured IQ and measured attainment in reading and spelling once used to identify dyslexia. Evidence shows that, regardless of general level of ability, those with marked reading and spelling difficulties perform badly on tasks such as decoding, word recognition and phonological skills. Furthermore, measures of IQ do not predict how children will respond to literacy intervention or their long-term outcomes”.

The Legacy Report: Government Response to the Committee's Ninth Report of Session 2009-10 - Science and Technology Committee.

 


“Good spelling and phonological skills interact to promote word learning (Ehri); good vocabulary knowledge promotes text comprehension and good text comprehension promotes vocabulary expansion (Perfetti & Stafura); prior knowledge enables good text comprehension and good text comprehension promotes learning from text (Compton et al.)” (p. 3)

Cain, K., & & Parilla, R. (2014). Introduction to the special issue. Theories of reading: What we have learned from two decades of scientific research. Scientific Studies of Reading, 18, 1-4.

 


“By the age of 8 years the correlation between spelling ability and reading achievement is of the order of .89 to .92, suggesting a very close (but not perfect) association between the two processes (Westwood, 1973)” (p. 18).

Westwood, P.S. (2005). Spelling: Approaches to teaching and assessment (2nd ed.). Camberwell, Victoria: ACER Press.

 


“In scripts where at least some phonemes have alternative spellings, spelling accuracy indexes the strength of orthographic representations (Cunningham et al., 2002; Share, 1999, 2004). However, a spelling task is conservative in relation to reading in that it requires recall rather than recognition of orthographic information (Ehri & Saltmarsh, 1996)”.

Bowey, J.A., & Muller, D. (2005). Phonological recoding and rapid orthographic learning in third-grade children’s silent reading: a critical test of the self-teaching hypothesis, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 92, 203–219.

 


“Few poor spellers are only poor spellers. More likely, such students are also poor readers and poor composers of written text and may have weaknesses in lexical, morphological, and syntactic domains that extend to spoken language as well (Catts & Kamhi, 1999)”.

Scott, C.M. (2000). Principles and methods of spelling instruction: Applications for poor spellers Topics in Language Disorders, 20, 66- 79.

 


"Knowledge of a word’s reading informs the spelling of that word in a less predictable fashion because correct readings were accompanied by phonetic as well as correct spellings." (p. 86)

Foorman, B. R., & Francis, D. J. (1994). Exploring connections among reading, spelling, and phonemic segmentation during first grade. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 6, 65-91.

 

 Do spelling problems and reading problems always co-occur?

We know that they often do so, but can one have a spelling problem only?

 

“Good readers tend to be good spellers, and poor readers tend to be poor spellers. Several studies have documented that reading and spelling are strongly associated with each other in different languages and age groups (e.g., Babayiğit & Stainthorp, 2010; Cardoso-Martins & Pennington, 2004; Desimoni, Scalisi, & Orsolini, 2012; Furnes & Samuelsson, 2011; Georgiou, Torppa, Manolitsis, Lyytinen, & Parrila, 2012b; Landerl & Wimmer, 2008; Leppänen, Niemi, Aunola, & Nurmi, 2006; Vaessen & Blomert, 2013; Yeung et al., 2011). However, the imperfect correlation between the two (rs range from 0.60 to 0.80; see meta-analysis by Swanson, Trainin, Necoechea, & Hammill, 2003) leaves open the window for a dissociation in which good readers can also be poor spellers (known as unexpected poor spellers) and poor readers can also be good spellers (known as unexpected poor readers). A few large-scale studies have indeed shown that these two performance profiles are not rare and may each affect 37% of school-age children (Fayol, Zorman, & Lété, 2009; Moll, Kunze, Neuhoff, Bruder,&Schulte-Körne, 2014; Moll & Landerl, 2009; Wimmer & Mayringer, 2002).” (p. 2)

Torppa, M., Georgiou, G.K., Niemi, P., Lerkkanen, M.K., & Poikkeus, A-M. (2016). The precursors of double dissociation between reading and spelling in a transparent orthography. Annals of Dyslexia, First online: 10 June 2016, DOI 10.1007/s11881-016-0131-5

 


 Spelling is not a direct inverse of reading

If you can spell a word - you can usually read the word (Singh, Deitz, & Singh, 1992). But, the ability to read a word does not necessarily predict accurate spelling.

For example, seek is regular for reading but not for spelling. The individual sounds in the word have multiple spellings!

/s/ = s, c, sc,

/ee/ = ea, ee, ie, y

/k/ = k, c, q

Seeque, seeck, seak, seke, seack etc

To choose which is correct, you need to know how to spell seek!


Good readers - bad spellers theories:

Underlying pronunciation weakness (Carver, 2000)?

Good spellers pay more attention to detailed letter sequences (Holmes, 2004)

Poorer spellers use partial cues in reading, and are inferior at rapid orthographic analysis (Holmes & Castles, 2001)

 

“The results presented here are in line with those reported by Wimmer (Wimmer & Mayringer, 2002; Wimmer & Schurz, 2010), who demonstrated that SD [spelling disability] is associated with a reduced efficiency of the storage component of the phonological loop as indicated by low nonword repetition scores. The importance of phonological storage for spelling skills seems plausible since in spelling all phonemes of a word have to be segmented and identified correctly, so that the corresponding graphemes can be derived. It is evident that children may experience severe difficulties in these segmentation demands, when they have specific impairments in retaining spoken language accurately within the phonological store. … Although children with combined literacy difficulties had generally lower working memory scores than children with isolated disabilities, none of the tested interaction terms were significant. The working memory profile of children with a combined RD+SD is therefore best described as an additive combination of the isolated disabilities rather than a distinct disorder: These children exhibit phonological loop impairments that are merely due to their spelling problems, and they also exhibit central-executive deficits that are reflective of their reading problems. … we would suggest that children with SD who exhibit comprehensive deficits in the phonological loop are likely to benefit from teaching principles that aim to compensate for poor phonological storage. For example, keeping instructions short and linguistically simple is an effective way of preventing phonological overload (Alloway, 2006; Gathercole & Alloway, 2008). Also, using visual memory aids that tap their unaffected visuospatial memory skills may be useful in helping children with SD to compensate for their phonological loop impairments. Children with RD exhibiting deficits in the central executive should especially benefit from teaching principles that reduce processing demands in working memory. According to Gathercole and Alloway (2008), this includes restructuring complex tasks in a step-by-step manner as well as increasing the meaningfulness of the reading material.” (p.629, 630, 631)

Brandenburg, J., Klesczewski, J., Fischbach, A., Schuchardt, K., Büttner, G. & Hasselhorn, M. (2015). Working memory in children with learning disabilities in reading versus spelling: Searching for  overlapping and specific cognitive factors. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 48(6) 622–634.

 


 Spelling enhances vocabulary

 

“Vocabulary learning is central to reading ability and academic achievement. Vocabulary researchers and educators have viewed its essence as a process of associating the pronunciations and meanings of words in memory, and they have paid little attention to the contribution that spellings might make to vocabulary learning. We review theory and evidence showing that this is a serious oversight. Once children become literate, they retain the spellings of words bonded to their pronunciations and meanings in memory. Several studies show that spellings of words are retained in memory and influence phonemic and syllabic segmentation of words, they enhance memory for pseudowords, and they impact the detection of oral rhyming words. Two studies show that exposing second and fifth graders to the spellings of new vocabulary words enhances their memory for pronunciations and meanings of the words. Students with better developed orthographic knowledge benefit more from spellings in learning vocabulary words than students with weaker knowledge. In fact, the detection of a Matthew effect suggests that differences in orthographic knowledge create a difference in vocabulary size that grows increasingly large over time. Findings carry implications for enhancing vocabulary learning and instruction. Teachers need to show the spellings of new vocabulary words when they discuss their meanings. Students need to stop and pronounce unfamiliar words rather than skip them during independent reading. Researchers need to incorporate orthography into their theories explaining vocabulary acquisition, specifically phonological working memory theories, and they need to attend to its influence in studies they conduct” (p. 389).

Ehri, L.C., & Rosenthal, J. (2007). Spellings of words: A neglected facilitator of vocabulary learning. In Dorit Aram& Ofra Korat (Eds.) Literacy development and enhancement across orthographies and cultures pp.137-152.

 


 Causes of low progress?

 

“ … the substantial variability in children’s reading and spelling skills is partly a product of variability in genetic endowment, which, for example, accounts for between 50 and 80% of individual differences at the end of first grade in the U.S., Australia, and Scandinavia (Byrne et al., 2006; Byrne et al., 2007; Petrill, Deater-Deckard, Thompson, DeThorne, & Schatschneider, 2006; Petrill et al., 2007). Other influences include practices in the home (Petrill, Deater-Deckard, Schatschneider, & Davis, 2005), socio-economic level and ethnicity (McCoach, O’Connell, Reis, & Levitt, 2006), and, in the case of reading fluency at least, peer influences within the classroom (Foorman, York, Santi, & Francis, 2008: see Papaioannou, Marsh, & Theodorakis, 2004 and Ryan, 2000, for a broader discussion of peer influences)” (p.2-3).

Byrne, B., Coventry, W.L., Olson, R.K., Wadsworth, S.J., Samuelsson, S., Petrill, S.A., Willcutt, E.G., & Corley, R. (2010).  "Teacher effects" in early literacy development: Evidence from a study of twins. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 32–42.

 


“ … our genes influence the environmental input that is necessary for successful learning of spelling, phonological, word reading, and comprehension skills (Olson et al.)” (Cain & Parilla, 2014, p. 3).

Cain, K., & & Parilla, R. (2014). Introduction to the special issue. Theories of reading: What we have learned from two decades of scientific research. Scientific Studies of Reading, 18, 1-4.

 


 “It seems that underlying their reading and spelling problems, their word-retrieval deficits, as well as their phonemic awareness and grammatical problems, the phonemes themselves are less securely represented in the perceptual system of less skilled readers (Brady 1997; Post, Foorman & Hiscock 1997; Post et al. 1999). As one of the consequences of their phonological insecurity, less skilled readers could experience difficulty capturing systematic allophonic variation in speech (Chen 1970; Cutler, Norris &Williams 1987) with a letter or letter pattern in initial literacy exposure, but also possibly during their entire life span. As their erratic spelling shows, they are, apparently, not able to hold on to these “alphabetic categories” (Olson 1996). Apart from less secure phoneme representation (Fowler 1991; McBride- Chang 1995; Kraus et al. 1996; de Gelder & Vroomen 1998), the construction of a link between phonology and orthography might also be hampered by the inconsistency of English orthography, especially with respect to vowels (Fowler, Shankweiler & Liberman 1979; Landerl, Wimmer & Frith 1997; Frith, Wimmer & Landerl 1998). In sum, less skilled readers do not easily develop automaticity in reading and spelling because automaticity requires the instantaneous transfer of letter patterns into speech sounds and vice versa (Bosman & de Groot 1996; Luo 1996)”. (p. 318).

Post, Y. V., & Carreker, S. (2002). Orthographic similarity and phonological transparency in spelling. Reading and Writing. An Interdisciplinary Journal, 15,317–340.

 

 With older low progress students intense and long term exemplary instruction is required.

 

“Most compelling from the current analyses are results directly investigating the differences between three modalities (Alternating, Integrated, Additive) of instruction. Outcomes showed clearly that modality of instruction can matter considerably for these older struggling readers. The differences in gains clearly demonstrate that the Additive modality, with its sequential addition of each component (isolated phonological decoding instruction, followed by addition of spelling instruction, followed by addition of fluency instruction, and finally the addition of comprehension instruction [see Table 1]) is potentially the best modality for remediating reading skills (decoding, spelling, fluency, comprehension) in older struggling readers, of the three approaches that were compared in this research. These students show that they are highly sensitivity to the scheduling of the components and the amounts of instructional time per component; this is an important finding for the development and refinement of reading programs for struggling adolescent readers. While more research still needs to be conducted in this area, this study lends credence to the different requirements this unique population of students may need in order to close the achievement gap in acquiring adequate reading skills” (p.588-9).

Calhoon, M. B., & Petscher, Y. (2013). Individual and group sensitivity to remedial reading program design: Examining reading gains across three middle school reading projects. Reading and Writing, 26(4), 565-592.

 


 “First, subgroup analyses demonstrated that children and adolescents with mild reading disabilities show more improvement in literacy skills than more severely impaired participants. Second, interventions with higher amounts of treatment or longer durations of treatment seem to be more effective in improving literacy skills than therapies with small amounts of treatment or short-time interventions” (p.10).

Auditory trainings intend to foster reading and spelling by focussing on the underlying causes of the poor performance. At first glance, this approach seems convenient, but the results of the present meta-analysis demonstrate that auditory trainings do not significantly improve children’s reading and spelling skills” (p.10).

The results revealed that phonics instruction is not only the most frequently investigated treatment approach, but also the only approach whose efficacy on reading and spelling performance in children and adolescents with reading disabilities is statistically confirmed. … The present meta-analysis demonstrates that severe reading and spelling difficulties can be ameliorated with appropriate treatment” (p.1).

“At the current state of knowledge, it is adequate to conclude that the systematic instruction of letter-sound correspondences and decoding strategies, and the application of these skills in reading and writing activities, is the most effective method for improving literacy skills of children and adolescents with reading disabilities. … The present results demonstrate that when phonemic awareness interventions are provided to school-aged children and adolescents with reading difficulties, they do not have a significant effect on a child’s reading or spelling performance. This indicates that phonemic awareness and reading fluency trainings alone are not sufficient to achieve substantial improvements. However, the combination of these two treatment approaches, represented by phonics instruction, has the potential to increase the reading and spelling performance of children and adolescents with reading disabilities." (p.9).

Galuschka, K., Ise, E., Krick, K., & Schulte-Körn, G. (2014). Effectiveness of treatment approaches for children and adolescents with reading disabilities: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS ONE, 9(2), 1-12. e89900. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089900.

 


“Spelling and writing are incorporated in some reading interventions because the skills associated with successful reading—such as phonological knowledge, text structure knowledge, and reasoning—also play a role in spelling and writing (Abbott & Berninger, 1993; Graham, Harris, & Chorzempa, 2002; Wanzek et al., 2006) (p.166). … Following a pattern of findings in which studies that are more rigorous yield smaller effects than those that are less rigorous (Swanson, Hoskyn, & Lee, 1999), the small effects noted for extensive interventions were notably lower than effects reported in previous syntheses of reading interventions for adolescents (p.186).

Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N.K., Metz, K., Murray, C.S., Roberts, G., & Danielson, L. (2013). Extensive reading interventions for students with reading difficulties after Grade 3. Review of Educational Research 8(2), 163-195.

 


“Research on spelling characteristics of older poor spellers shows that, in general, spelling miscues are similar to those of younger normal children. Moats (1995) attributed these errors to the fact that the poorest poor spellers have continuing difficulty with phonemic segmentation, which in turn interferes with phonological coding for perceptually less salient sound classes (liquids and nasals) and word positions (any non-initial position). The theme that winds through much of the current spelling literature specific to poor spellers is the need to provide intense, systematic, and individualized instruction. Poor spellers take longer to learn the same things that good spellers learn easily; they are more likely to forget what they presumably knew, particularly in text-level writing. The poorest poor spellers, even older ones, need basic work in phonological awareness and the alphabetic principle as well as instruction in the regularities of spelling at the level of morphology and meaning. … What may be truly unusual about the older poor speller is that "primitive phonologically based errors coexist with relatively high levels of knowledge about the orthographic structure of printed words" (Treiman, 1997)”

Scott, C.M. (2000). Principles and methods of spelling instruction: Applications for poor spellers Topics in Language Disorders, 20, 66- 79.

 


“However, it would seem that rapid and accurate word identification is particularly crucial if the reader is to complete higher-level processing successfully. The result fits well with the idea that efficient and automatic word identification liberates resources for effective higher-level processing (Perfetti, 1985, 1992) … Recent research on younger readers has shown that the contribution of word recognition to reading comprehension can vary widely depending on the type of comprehension test used (Cutting & Scarborough, 2006; Keenan, Betjemann & Olson, 2008). … This may be because an individual’s phonological representations of words become increasingly influenced by their spelling knowledge (Ehri, 1991, 2005). Once reading is well under way, both children and adults have great trouble deleting sounds from spoken words when the phoneme is not clearly marked in the orthography, such as deleting the /w/ sound in quack or the /k/ sound in fox (Castles, Holmes, Neath & Kinoshita, 2003). People also respond that there are more sounds in spoken words containing more letters, such as pitch than in words containing fewer letters, such as rich (Ehri & Wilce, 1980; Tunmer and Nesdale, 1985). In short, literate individuals find it difficult to disregard their knowledge of the spelling of spoken words when asked to make judgments on how they sound”.

Holmes, V.M. (2009). Bottom-up processing and reading comprehension in experienced adult readers. Journal of Research in Reading, 32(3), 309–326.

 


“In another longitudinal study, Lipka, Lesaux, and Siegel (2006) examined reading and reading-related abilities of children with poor word reading skills. From a sample of 1,100 children who had been followed from kindergarten through fourth grade, 22 children were identified with word-reading deficits in fourth grade. Seven of the poor readers had persistent problems across grades, eight had late-emerging deficits (after third grade), and seven had borderline deficits at other grades. Additional results indicated that those with late-emerging word-reading problems had phonological processing deficits, especially after second grade. Such deficits were evident on tests of phonological awareness, phonological decoding, and spelling. Lipka et al. suggested that these children may have been able to compensate for their phonological deficits in the early grades, but as words became more complex, they showed reading and spelling difficulties” (p.167).

Lipka, O., Lesaux, N., & Siegel, L. (2006). Retrospective analyses of the reading development of Grade 4 students with reading disabilities: Risk status and profiles over 5 years. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39, 364–378.

 


  What does rapid automatized naming (RAN) have to do with spelling?

We know that RAN has an association with reading.

 

“Rapid automatized naming refers to the ability to retrieve phonological information from long-term memory (Wagner et al., 1987). When readers decode words, they unconsciously engage in a variety of cognitive processes that are influenced by rapid automatized naming. They must quickly retrieve the phonological codes for the letters from long-term memory, blend the codes together, and search their long-term memory’s internal dictionary in order to make meaning of the combined codes (Wagner et al., 1987).” (p.180)

Nelson, J.M., Lindstrom, J.H., Lindstrom, W., Denis, D. (2012). The structure of phonological processing and its relationship to basic reading. Exceptionality: ASpecial Education Journal, 20(3), 179-196.

 


“ … our findings are consistent with those of Bowers et al. (1999), who reported a deficit in orthographic pattern learning in their RAN deficit group. Bowers et al. (1999) interpreted their finding as supportive of the mechanistic account of the RAN–reading association provided by double deficit theory (e.g.,Wolf & Bowers, 1999), which predicts a specific difficulty in learning commonly occurring letter clusters” (p.203).

“This study provided evidence of the enduring nature of RAN difficulties and the reading difficulties that accompany them, even in children with age-appropriate PA. Furthermore, there was evidence of a deficit in both word and subword-level orthographic knowledge in the low RAN group, at an age where, with transition to secondary school, independent reading skills become crucial for success across the curriculum, and where orthographic processes should come to dominate children’s maturing reading systems” (p.204-5).

Powell, D., Stainthorp, R., & Stuart, M. (2014). Deficits in orthographic knowledge in children poor at rapid automatized naming (RAN) tasks? Scientific Studies of Reading, 18(3), 192-207.


“This meta-analysis provides convincing evidence for a significant and persistent relation between RAN and reading ability. It is suggested that RAN performance reflects, from very early on, underlying cognitive processes that are relevant for learning to read and, consequently, reflects the usefulness of these measures in predicting reading competence and its failure. Correlations were higher for reading fluency than for accuracy measures, and also when alphanumeric RAN stimulus material was used. Thus, these measures should be critical in predictive studies, especially at more advanced school grades, as they seem to be more sensitive to individual differences in reading ability than are other measures. But whatever RAN taps into, it is beyond letter knowledge and speed of processing. In turn, the association of RAN with reading accuracy seems to depend greatly on the grade level of the sample under study, with somewhat larger effects in early grades. Later on in development, we recommend that researchers ensure the discriminative power of the accuracy measures, due to possible ceiling effects. Moreover, we also observed that correlations tend to be stronger for impaired readers than for average readers. Previous studies had already shown that children with dyslexia perform poorly on RAN (e.g., Araújo et al., 2011, 2010). Taken together, we argue that understanding the processes subserving impaired visual naming speed in dyslexia may offer promising clues to the causes of dyslexia and deepen our knowledge of the cognitive basis of this disorder.” (p. 881)

Araújo, S., Reis, A., Petersson, K. M., & Faísca, L. (2015). Rapid automatized naming and reading performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(3), 868-883.



“RAN made a significant unique contribution to spelling performance. Further analyses showed that participants with low naming performance were significantly poorer spellers overall and had a specific difficulty in spelling irregular words. The findings support the view that RAN may be indexing processes that are implicated in the establishment of fully specified orthographic representations.” (p.371)

Stainthorp, R., Powell, D., & Stuart, M. (2013). The relationship between rapid naming and word spelling in English. Journal of Research in Reading 36(4), 371-388.

 


“This paper addresses the question whether the cognitive underpinnings of reading and spelling are universal or language/orthography-specific. We analyzed concurrent predictions of phonological processing (awareness and memory) and rapid automatized naming (RAN) for literacy development in a large European sample of 1062 typically developing elementary school children beyond Grade 2 acquiring five different alphabetic orthographies with varying degrees of grapheme–phoneme consistency (English, French, German, Hungarian, Finnish). Findings indicate that (1) phonological processing and RAN both account for significant amounts of unique variance in literacy attainment in all five orthographies. Associations of predictors with reading speed, reading accuracy, and spelling are differential: in general, RAN is the best predictor of reading speed while phonological processing accounts for higher amounts of unique variance in reading accuracy and spelling; (2) the predictive patterns are largely comparable across orthographies, but they tend to be stronger in English than in all other orthographies” (p.65). … Assessment tools should therefore include both, phonological processing and RAN, given that both cognitive skills are significant and unique predictors of literacy performance across orthographies (p.75). … Phonological processing was the better proximal predictor of spelling in all orthographies except English, where RAN accounted for more variance than phonological awareness (p.75).

Moll, K., Ramus, F., Bartling, J., Bruder, J., Kunze, S., Neuhoff, N Streiftau, S., Lyytinen, H., Leppänen, P. H. T., Lohvansuu, K., Tóth, D., Honbolygó, F., Csépe, V., Bogliotti, C., Iannuzzi, S., Démonet, J-F., Longeras, E., Valdois, S., George, F., Soares-Boucaud, I., Le Heuzey, M-F., Billard, C., O'Donovan, M., Hill, G., Williams, J., Brandeis, D., Maurer, U., Schulz, E., van der Mark, S., Müller-Myhsok, B., Schulte-Körne, G., & Landerl, K. (2014). Cognitive mechanisms underlying reading and spelling development in five European orthographies. Learning and Instruction, 29, 65–77.

 


“The difficulties experienced by below-average readers in phonological decoding tasks are well documented. Recent research has suggested that additional deficits in perceptual–motor fluency, handedness, and memory may also exist among below-average readers. To evaluate these claims, average and below-average readers and spellers were compared on a range of phonological processing, verbal short-term and working memory, rapid naming, handedness, and perceptual–motor fluency tasks. Average and below-average readers were sampled in a comparable manner and were also comparable on age, gender, nonverbal ability, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. Below-average readers and spellers performed lower than average readers and spellers on rhyme detection, pseudoword decoding, and rapid digit (but not picture) naming tasks, but showed no differences in handedness tasks or on a range of other perceptual–motor tasks”.

Savage, R.S., & Frederickson, N. (2006). Beyond phonology: What else is needed to describe the problems of below-average readers and spellers? Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39(5), 399–413.

 


“Dysfluent reading in the absence of spelling difficulties was associated only with a naming speed deficit––assessed at school entrance––but not with phonological memory or phonological awareness deficits. In contrast, a specific spelling deficit was preceded by phonological deficits”.

Wimmer, H., & Mayringer, H. (2002). Dysfluent reading in the absence of spelling difficulties. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 272-277.


How ready are teachers to provide exemplary spelling instruction?

 

“Abstract: The capacity of secondary school teachers to support general literacy and to teach discipline-specific literacy skills depends upon their personal literacy competence. Diagnostic testing of 203 secondary teaching undergraduates at one Australian university revealed deficiencies in personal literacy competence that could affect their future teaching effectiveness. The sample of undergraduates was tested in spelling, vocabulary, and punctuation. Analysis of the results showed high rates of error on general spelling and vocabulary tasks. The degree of error in many cases was severe. For some undergraduates, the prospect of successful remediation so late in their academic career appeared poor. It is suggested that universities need to monitor admission standards and continue to invest in ongoing remediation” (p.111) … The teacher must display wide vocabulary knowledge, perceive and explain connections between words, spell correctly without notice, and compose clear sentences. There is enough evidence in the test results to suggest that many undergraduates in this Bachelor of Education course lack the personal literacy competence to perform those tasks to a professional standard. This is a concern, given the evident importance of language and literacy competence in ensuring effective teaching (p.126). … the raw evidence of student performance on spelling, vocabulary and writing tasks still suggests that some graduating teachers have literacy skills below the ability level of the students they will be hired to teach” (p.127).

Moon, B. (2014). The literacy skills of secondary teaching undergraduates: Results of diagnostic testing and a discussion of findings. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(12), 111-130. 

 


"3rd grade teachers’ phonemic knowledge was significantly correlated with weaker spellers’ gain scores. Results while correlational provide tentative support for the conclusion that teachers who are more knowledgeable about phonemes in words and who utilize more effective, research based spelling instruction are more successful in teaching spelling to weaker spellers.” (p. 239)

Puliatte, A., & Ehri, L.C. (2018). Do 2nd and 3rd grade teachers’ linguistic knowledge and instructional practices predict spelling gains in weaker spellers? Reading & Writing 31(2), 239–266.

 


“Beginning primary teachers are not confident about teaching specific aspects of literacy such as spelling, grammar and phonics”.

Louden, W., Rohl, M., Gore, J., Greaves, D., Mcintosh, A., Wright, R., Siemon, D., & House, H. (2005b). Prepared to teach: An investigation into the preparation of teachers to teach literacy and numeracy. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training.

 


“A further factor contributing to poor spelling achievement in children is an all too common lack of depth in teacher’s knowledge about the spelling system (including basic phonology, morphology and phonics), as well as of strategies used to teach spelling (Fresch, 2007; Hammond, 2004; Johnston, 2001; Loudon & Rohl, 2006; Mehan & Hammond, 2006; Templeton & Morris, 1999; Westwood, 2005, 2008a). Teacher preparation courses often do not include studies in the basic areas of linguistics (phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics), knowledge of which would greatly improve pre-service teachers’ understanding of how the English sound system, grammatical system, and orthographic system work (Carney, 1994; Coltheart and Prior, 2007; Mahar & Richdale, 2008; Treiman, 1998a; Westwood 2005, 2008a). As Hammond (2004) rightly points out, ‘It is hard to teach spelling if you don’t know the rules about the English language yourself’ (p. 16). ’ It is possible that the same observation could be made of some teacher educators in universities, who were appointed mainly on the basis of their enthusiasm for whole language approach rather than knowledge of linguistics (Joshi, 2006; cited in Fielding-Barnsley, 2010).”

Mullock, B. (2012). An examination of commercial spelling programs for upper primary level students. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 36(2), 172-195.

 


 Teaching spelling explicitly?

 

“It is estimated that an adult writer knows how to spell between 10,000 and 20,000 words. By way of contrast, in the most conscientious spelling curriculum (i.e., weekly "spelling lists" of words to be memorized), a child is explicitly taught approximately 3,800 words during the elementary years (Graham, Harris, & Loynachan, 1996). In this discrepancy lies the crux of much of the debate on spelling instruction. How much of spelling is "taught" and how much is "caught"?”

Scott, C.M. (2000). Principles and methods of spelling instruction: Applications for poor spellers. Topics in Language Disorders, 20, 66- 79.

 


“What is required for automaticity of recall is spelling instruction that is explicit and systematic, focusing on exploring patterns that can be detected in the sound, structure, and meaning features of words, and thus reinforcing and consolidating children’s understanding of how the spelling system works.” (Mullock, 2012, p.173).

Mullock, B. (2012). An examination of commercial spelling programs for upper primary level students. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 36 (2), 172-195.

 


“Instructional significance of triple word form theory. Early in reading development, children with dyslexia require explicit instruction in mapping existing phonological word forms in their long-term and working memory onto orthographic word forms they are constructing (Berninger & Richards, 2002). Early intervention that teaches phonological awareness and phonics (alphabetic principle) helps children construct these mental maps and results in brain changes (B. A. Shaywitz et al., 2004; Simos et al., 2002; Simos et al., this issue). Later in reading development, children with dyslexia require explicit instruction in mapping morphological and phonological word forms in their long-term and working memory onto orthographic word forms that are increasingly longer and of Latin, French, and Greek origin (Aylward et al., 2003; Berninger & Richards, 2002; Carlisle, 1994; Henry, 2003; Nagy, Osborn, Winsor, & O’Flahaven, 1994; Richards et al., 2002).Carlisle (1994), Henry(2003), and Nagy et al. (1994) contained practical instructional recommendations for teaching children to coordinate phonological, morphological, and orthographic word forms and their parts. As Nagy explained it to children, words live in families just like children do; to learn to read and spell, children need to learn how families of sounds, families of word parts for meaning, and families of letter units work together harmoniously. Explicit instruction in word forms and their interrelationships can be embedded in instruction that also teaches vocabulary (Stahl & Nagy, 2006) and comprehension (Carlisle & Rice, 2002), as recommended by the National Reading Panel (2000) and implemented in our instructional treatment (Berninger, 2000; Berninger & Abbott, 2003; Berninger et al., 2003)”(p. 581).

Richards, T.L., Aylward, E.H., Field, K.M., Grimme, A.C., Raskind, W., Richards, W.L., Nagy, W., Eckert, M., Leonard, C., Abbott, R.D. & Berninger, V.W. (2006). Converging evidence for triple word form theory in children with dyslexia. Developmental Neuropsychology, 30(1), 547-589.

 


"Regardless of whether the spelling errors of learning disabled students result from a delay in skill acquisition or differences in the way spelling strategies are formulated and revised, the errors must be addressed through systematic and direct instruction." (p. 393).

Singh, N. N., Deitz, D. E. D., & Singh, J. (1992). Behavioural approaches. In Nirbay N, Singh & Ivan L. Beale (Eds.) Learning disabilities: Nature, theory, and treatment. NY: Springer-Verlag.

 


"I suggest this direct instruction on spelling patterns begin by mid-year first grade rather than later."

Foorman, B.R. (1995). Research on "the great debate" code-oriented versus whole language approaches to reading instruction. School Psychology Review, 24, 376-392

 


Spelling Mastery represents a third example of an explicit, whole-word approach to spelling instruction. For high frequency, irregular words that cannot be spelled by applying phonemic rules, Spelling Mastery uses an explicit whole-word approach to spelling instruction. A typical whole-word lesson in Spelling Mastery begins by introducing students to a sentence that contains irregular words (e.g., I thought he was through.). At first the unpredictable letters or letter combinations are provided and students must fill in the missing letters (e.g., _ _ _ ough _ _ _ _ a _ _ _ _ ough). Presenting the irregular words in this way teaches the students that even irregular words have some predictable elements. Gradually, the number of provided letters is decreased until students are able to spell all the words without visual prompts. Once the sentence is learned, variations are presented so that students can apply the spelling of irregular words to various sentence contexts (e.g., She thought about her homework throughout the night.). This explicit approach to whole-word spelling instruction leads students through gradual steps toward the ultimate goal of accurate spelling performance” (p.100).

Simonsen, F., & Gunter, L. (2001). Best practices in spelling instruction: A research summary. Journal of Direct Instruction, 1(2), 97–105.

 


 What about the relationship of spelling and writing?

 

“Writing provides a means for personal reflection, thinking, creativity, meaning-making and sharing, as well as complementing other modes of communication in a world of multimodal texts. While writing in the digital age has become increasingly fast-paced and exposed to global scrutiny, being able to write efficiently with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation remains a critical part of being a literate writer. This article uses data from 819 Australian primary school students to explore the relationship between three language conventions, namely spelling, grammar and punctuation as measured by the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) Language Conventions Test, and the quality of written composition, as measured by the NAPLAN Writing Test. Results indicate that spelling, grammar and punctuation jointly predict written composition achievement with spelling as the main predictor. Implications for the educational practice of writing in the contemporary context are discussed, emphasising the importance of spelling in relation to writing and how instruction in spelling, during senior primary school, appears to be critical for written composition improvement.”  (p.75)

Daffern, T., Mackenzie, N.M., & Hemmings, B. (2017). Predictors of writing success: How important are spelling, grammar and punctuation? Australian Journal of Education, 61(1), 75–87.

 


“In this debate about the importance of motor conditions when learning to read and write, the results of the present study are in agreement with those showing that writing letters facilitates their memorization and their subsequent recognition (Hulme, 1979; Naka and Naoi, 1995)” (p. 75).

Longcamp, M., Zerbato-Poudou, M.T., & Velay, J.L. (2005). The influence of writing practice on letter recognition in preschool children: a comparison between handwriting and typing. Acta Psychologia, 119, 67-79.

 


“(Traditional spelling programs) do not focus on making the spelling image of a word memorable through the use of all senses by simultaneously presenting grouped words orally, visually and through the motor movements of writing (Hulme 1981; Montgomery 1981; Moats & Farrell 1999).” (p.328)

Post, Y. V., & Carreker, S. (2002). Orthographic similarity and phonological transparency in spelling. Reading and Writing. An Interdisciplinary Journal, 15,317–340.

 


“Writing is an immensely important and equally complex and sophisticated human skill commonly ascribed a fundamental role in children’s cognitive and language development, and a milestone on the path to literacy. Nevertheless, compared to the vast field of reading research, there has been less scientific attention devoted to the act and skill of writing. … A large body of research in neuroscience, biopsychology and evolutionary biology demonstrates that our use of hands for purposive manipulation of tools plays a constitutive role in learning and cognitive development, and may even be a significant building block in language development. Furthermore, brain imaging studies (using fMRI, i.e., functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) show that the specific hand movements involved in handwriting support the visual recognition of letters. Considering the fact that children today or in the near future may learn to write on the computer before they master the skill of handwriting, such findings are increasingly important. In this article we present evidence from experiments in neuroscience and experimental psychology that show how the bodily, sensorimotor – e.g., haptic – dimension might be a defining feature of not only the skill of writing but may in fact be an intrinsic factor contributing to low-level reading skills (e.g., letter recognition) as well, and we discuss what a shift from handwriting to keyboard writing might entail in this regard (p.386).

Mangen, A., & Velay, J-L. (2010). Digitizing literacy: Reflections on the haptics of writing, Advances in Haptics, In Mehrdad Hosseini Zadeh (Ed.), InTech. DOI: 10.5772/8710. Retrieved from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/advances-in-haptics/digitizing-literacy-reflections-on-the-haptics-of-writing

 


“Writing helps in many ways. First the physical act of forming the letters forces the child to look closely at the features that make one letter different from another...Second, writing letters (left to right) trains the ability to read left to right. Third, saying each sound as the letter is written helps anchor the sound-to-letter connection in the memory” (p.239).

McGuinness, D. (2004). Growing a reader from birth: Your child's path from language to literacy. New York: W.W. Norton and Co.

 


“Thus, replacing handwriting by typing during learning might have an impact on the cerebral representation of letters and thus on letter memorization. In two behavioral studies, Longcamp et al. investigated the handwriting/typing distinction, one in pre-readers (Longcamp, Zerbato-Poudou et al., 2005b) and one in adults (Longcamp, Boucard, Gilhodes, & Velay, 2006). Both studies confirmed that letters or characters learned through typing were subsequently recognized less accurately than letters or characters written by hand. In a subsequent study (Longcamp et al., 2008), fMRI data showed that processing the orientation of handwritten and typed characters did not rely on the same brain areas. Greater activity related to handwriting learning was observed in several brain regions known to be involved in the execution, imagery, and observation of actions, in particular, the left Broca’s area and bilateral inferior parietal lobules. Writing movements may thus contribute to memorizing the shape and/or orientation of characters. However, this advantage of learning by handwriting versus typewriting was not always observed when words were considered instead of letters. In one study (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1990), children spelled words which were learned by writing them by hand better than those learned by typing them on a computer”.

Mangen, A., & Velay, J-L. ((2010). Digitizing literacy: Reflections on the haptics of writing, Advances in Haptics, In Mehrdad Hosseini Zadeh (Ed.), InTech. DOI: 10.5772/8710. Retrieved from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/advances-in-haptics/digitizing-literacy-reflections-on-the-haptics-of-writing

 


“In a series of studies, Hulme and Bradley (Bradley, 1981; Hulme & Bradley, 1984; see also Prior, Frye, & Fletcher, 1987) demonstrated the superiority of the Simultaneous Oral Spelling method, in which children learn to spell a word by pronouncing a word written and spoken for them, pronouncing the name of each letter while writing the word, and then repeating the whole word again (see Bradley, 1980, 1981). In a test of the efficacy of the components of the Simultaneous Oral Spelling method, Hulme and Bradley (1984) found that for a normally achieving group of young children, the motoric element of the method seemed to be the important factor (children performed better when writing the words than when using letters on cards to spell them); whereas for an older group of reading-disabled children, the combination of writing and letter naming seemed to be critical. Hulme (1981; Hulme, Monk & Ives, 1987) has carried out an extensive series of studies demonstrating that the motoric activity involved in tracing or writing various stimuli can facilitate young children's memory performance (see also Endo, 1988). These results are congruent with the work on word learning and led Hulme et al. (1987) to tentatively conclude that "It is, perhaps, not unreasonable to speculate that the motor activity involved in learning to write may be beneficial to the development of basic reading skills’” (p. 159).

“ … spelling is usually conceived of as a task that requires a more complete and precise orthographic representation than that required by reading (see Ehri, 1987; Stanovich, 1992). Thus, it may be that reading does not expose subtle differences in the quality of the orthographic lexicon in the same way that spelling does, perhaps because the advantages of redundancy are greater in the former task and thus the existence of precise orthographic representations is less critical” (p.162).

Cunningham, A. E., & Stanovich, K. E. (1990). Early spelling acquisition: Writing beats the computer. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 159-162.

 


“A cursory and cross-disciplinary glance at the current state of writing research yields the impression that writing is mainly, if not exclusively, a mental (e.g., cognitive) process (MacArthur, Graham, & Fitzgerald, 2006; Torrance, van Waes, & Galbraith, 2007; Van Waes, Leijten, & Neuwirth, 2006). Cognitive approaches to the study of writing focus predominantly on the visual component of the process, and how it relates to cognitive processing. However, as evidenced by research in neuroscience, and as phenomenologically experienced by the writer him- or herself, writing is a process that requires the integration of visual, proprioceptive (haptic/kinaesthetic), and tactile information in order to be accomplished (Fogassi & Gallese, 2004). In other words, the acquisition of writing skills involves a perceptual component (learning the shape of the letter) and a graphomotor component (learning the trajectory producing the letter’s shape) (van Galen, 1991). Research has shown that sensory modalities involved in handwriting, e.g., vision and proprioception, are so intimately entwined that strong neural connections have been revealed between perceiving, reading, and writing letters in different languages and symbol/writing systems. (James & Gauthier, 2006; Kato et al., 1999; Longcamp, Anton, Roth, & Velay, 2003, 2005a; Matsuo et al., 2003; Vinter & Chartrel, 2008; Wolf, 2007) Current brain imaging techniques show how neural pathways can be differentially activated from handling different writing systems. … Current brain imaging techniques show how neural pathways can be differentially activated from handling different writing systems: logographic writing systems seem to activate very distinctive parts of the frontal and temporal areas of the brain, particularly regions involved in what is called motor perception. For instance, experiments using fMRI have revealed how Japanese readers use different pathways – when reading kana (an efficient syllabary used mainly for foreign and/or newer words, and for names of cities and persons), the activated pathways are similar to those used by English readers. In contrast, when reading kanji – an older logographic script influenced by Chinese – Japanese readers use pathways that come close to those used by the Chinese (Wolf, 2007).”.” (p.389)

Mangen, A., & Velay, J-L. (2010). Digitizing literacy: Reflections on the haptics of writing, Advances in Haptics, In Mehrdad Hosseini Zadeh (Ed.), InTech. DOI: 10.5772/8710. Retrieved from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/advances-in-haptics/digitizing-literacy-reflections-on-the-haptics-of-writing

 


“In fact, it has been reported that learning by handwriting facilitated subjects’ memorization of graphic forms (Naka & Naoi, 1995). Visual recognition was also studied by Hulme (1979), who compared children’s learning of a series of abstract graphic forms, depending on whether they simply looked at the forms or looked at them as well as traced the forms with their index finger. The tracing movements seemed to improve the children’s memorization of the graphic items. Thus, it was suggested that the visual and motor information might undergo a common representation process. Various data converge to indicate that the cerebral representation of letters might not be strictly visual, but might be based on a complex neural network including a sensorimotor component acquired while learning concomitantly to read and write (James & Gauthier, 2006; Kato et al., 1999; Longcamp et al., 2003; 2005a; Matsuo et al., 2003). Close functional relationships between the reading and writing processes might hence occur at a basic sensorimotor level, in addition to the interactions that have been described at a more cognitive level (e.g., Fitzgerald & Shanahan, 2000).” (p.395-6)

Longcamp, M., Zerbato-Poudou, M.T., & Velay, J.L. (2005). The influence of writing practice on letter recognition in preschool children: a comparison between handwriting and typing. Acta Psychologia, 119, 67-79.

 


“The implication of the direct path finding is that instruction in word recognition skills will transfer more to handwriting than instruction in handwriting skills will transfer to word recognition. Instructional research is therefore needed to evaluate whether covariances or direct paths best characterize the relationships between handwriting and word recognition in literary instruction. This research is especially needed because multisensory approaches to language remediation (e.g., Birsch, 1999) tend to assume that integrating handwriting with word recognition instruction facilitates the learning of word recognition. However, the results for the direct paths in both structural models yield evidence of bidirectional, reciprocal relationships between word recognition and spelling. Training spelling should influence word recognition and training word recognition should influence spelling. … This phenotypic study (see Berninger, Abbott, et al., 2001, for additional details about method and findings) provides additional support for the claim that reading and writing systems draw on common as well as on unique processes (cf. Berninger et al., 1994; Fitzgerald & Shanahan, 2000). This study also lends support to the hypothesis that strong links between the reading and writing systems exist at the word level (word recognition - spelling) and at the text level (comprehension composition)”. (p.45, 48).

Berninger, V.W., Abbott, R.D., Abbott, S.P., Graham, S., & Richards, T. (2002). Writing and reading: Connections between language by hand and language by eye. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35, 39-56.

  


 Are we doing a good job of teaching spelling?

 

“Only 37.5 per cent of the surveyed parents believed that students were leaving school with adequate skills in literacy. 83.5 per cent of parents highlighted ‘Grammar, spelling and punctuation’ as ‘very important’. … Also, parents’ views on national consistency were similar for parents of children who attended government and non-government schools”.

Department of Education, Science and Training. (2007). Parents’ attitudes to schooling. Canberra: Australian Government.http://www.dest.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/311AA3E6-412E-4FA4-AC01-541F37070529/16736/ParentsAttitudestoSchoolingreporMay073.rtf

 


“Three-quarters of employers would be put off a job candidate by poor spelling or grammar, a survey suggests. Hertfordshire University found bad English alienated 77% of the 515 companies it spoke to - more than twice the 34% annoyed by CV exaggerations”.

BBC News. (2006). Bad spelling 'puts off employers'. BBC News. Friday, August 4. Retrieved, August 11, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/5243098.stm

 


“Judging from the results of testing released this week by Educational Assessment Australia at the University of NSW, our schools are not doing the job. On the whole, our children don't spell English as well as Mandarin-speaking children in Singapore. … These results cannot be a surprise since we stopped serious teaching of spelling, grammar and sentence construction decades ago, with the consequence that most teachers cannot analyse errors in speech and writing”.

Wheeldon, J. (2006). Why teachers should be spellbound. The Australian, July 29. Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19941621-13881,00.html

 


“LESS than half of all Year 7 students could identify verbs or adjectives and only 7 per cent could spell "definitely" in a literacy test sat by all NSW students entering high school this year. NSW English Language and Literacy Assessment (2006) show that a majority of students have difficulty with spelling, punctuation and grammar”.

Ferrari, J. (2006).Words failing Year 7 students. The Australian, Aug 11. Retrieved, August 11, from http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20077692-13881,00.html

 


 Should we correct spelling errors?

 

“Behaviorally as well, more "effort" appears to be invested in decoding at the very first encounter with a novel string. When children read aloud the text passages in this study, the letter-by-letter sounding out and blending observed on the initial encounter with a new target would typically be replaced by a smooth uninterrupted pronunciation by the second or third exposure. … Clearly, there are also practical implications of single-trial learning. If "first impressions" are indeed the most potent, a decoding (or spelling) error on the very first attempt at a new word should be more detrimental to long-term orthographic learning than should an error committed at a later point. The common classroom practice of ignoring spelling errors in the early written products of beginning readers (when the primary focus of learning and instruction is the acquisition of the alphabetic principle and/or communicative intent) suggests that greater effort might need to be expended later to alter faulty orthographic representations created at the initial encounters with novel words”.

Share, D. (2004). Orthographic learning at a glance: On the time course and developmental onset of self-teaching. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 87(4), 267-298.

 


 What's the takeaway message?

“(1) For most learners, spelling is not ‘caught’, and specific time must be allocated for instruction and guided practice, particularly in primary schools. (2) Throughout the school years, spelling needs to be taught as a thinking process. (3) Studies have strongly supported the value of teaching students effective mental strategies to use when spelling, proofreading, and self-correcting. (4) Best practice is reflected in approaches that stress the rationality behind the spelling of most English words, not in approaches that imply all spelling patterns are unpredictable and must be memorized by rote. (5) Effective instruction in spelling usually involves a combination of methods that incorporate vision, hearing, speech, writing, thinking, and word study. (6) Phonetic strategies should be taught alongside visual processing strategies, to ensure that students can use both in a complementary manner. (7) For struggling spellers, multisensory teaching approaches (including computer based technologies) are helpful in combining visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic components of spelling, and thus establishing orthographic awareness.” (p.9)

Westwood, P. (2015). Spelling: Do the eyes have it? Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 20(1), 3-13.


 Other Spelling References

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ACARA. (2013b). ACARA clarifies NAPLAN standards and achievement scale. 11 November 2013. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/news_media/news_full/11_nov_2013_acara_clarifies_naplan_standards.html

ACARA. (2013c). ACARA 2013 NAPLAN conversion tables F11/353-9. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/acara_freedom_of_information_disclosure_log.html

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Berninger, V., Vaughan, K., Abbot, R., Brooks, A., Abbott, S., Rogan, L, Reed, E., & Graham, S. (1998b). Early intervention for spelling problems: Teaching functional spelling units of varying size with a multiple-connections framework. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 587605.

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Implementing Direct Instruction Successfully: An Online Tutorial

When implemented fully, Direct Instruction (DI) is unparalleled in its ability to improve student performance and enhance students’ self-esteem. In order to implement DI effectively, much more is required than simply purchasing instructional materials. The following two-part tutorial guides administrators, teachers and coaches through the key features of a successful DI implementation. Part I provides an overview of the steps schools need to take in preparation for a DI implementation before school starts while Part II provides an overview of the steps schools need to take after school has started.

rating starIMPORTANT: This tutorial is an intensive video series comprised of 18 segments, each followed by a series of questions. Users should allow approximately three hours to watch the videos and complete the questions. NIFDI recognizes the high demand for time placed on school officials and, for this reason, has structured the tutorial so users may stop at anytime and later resume where they left off.

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Have a slow connection? You can view the quiz portion (no videos) of the tutorial here. To get a copy of the videos on disk to use with this method, please contact us at 877.485.1973 or .

New to Direct Instruction? Watch the Introduction to Direct Instruction Video Series before taking the online tutorial.

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