This paper examines the meaning of spelling and goes further to discuss the stages of spelling development. It also discusses the connection of phonics and concludes with the discussion on the best way to teach spelling and how to help English learners with spelling.
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Spelling is the process of writing of words or a just a word with necessary and appropriate letters in an acceptable writing standards while also giving attention to diacritics. Spelling is considered to be one of the invaluable components of orthography and also prescriptive component of the language of the alphabets.
Many of the spellings try to transliterate sounds of a given language into alphabetical letter. Nonetheless, spellings that are completely phonetic are excluded. As young and growing children commence to know how to write, they normally come up with their own unique ways of spelling.
The unique way is known as invented spelling. It is important to note that spelling is entirely about pattern. Children need to be trained to see the letter patterns in order for them to learn patterns of spelling instead of just memorizing every single alphabetical letter of every given sentence or word (Kress, 2000).
The stages of spelling development
First stage: Emergent spelling
In the emergent stage children have the ability to do scribbles, letter-like formations together and also doing some few letters. However, as they do these, they are do not actually associate the marks they make with any specific or particular phonemes.
The children that are mostly found in this stage of spelling development are those who are between 3 and 5 years old. During this stage, students learn the distinction that exists between writing and drawing, how to come up with different letters, the direction to follow when writing on a page and some matches of letter-sound (Slideshare, 2010).
Second stage: Alphabetic spelling of letter name
Children who get into this spelling stage learn how to represent phonemes in words using letters. Initially, the students’ spelling are somewhat abbreviated, nonetheless, they learn how to make use of blends of consonants, diagraphs besides short vowel patterns in relation to spelling numerous words of short vowels.
Children who dominate this stage of spelling development are normally aged between 5 and 7 years old. It is argued that, in this stage, children learn the concepts by sounds of short vowels, sounds of consonants, principles of alphabetic digraphs and consonant blends (Slideshare, 2010).
Third stage: Within-Word Pattern Spelling
This stage of spelling development is more elaborate than the first two stages. In this stage, the students learn the patterns of long vowels and vowels that are r-controlled. However, in many cases, the students are highly likely to confuse between patterns of spelling; for instance, they may confuse “feet” with “fete.”
Besides, they can always possibly reverse the order of letter patterns; for example, they can write “meat” instead of “team.” The students found within this stage are mostly aged between 7 and 9 years of age. These students learn the concepts through long vowel spelling patterns, more complex patterns of consonants, r-controlled vowels and diphthongs and other known less common patterns of vowels (Slideshare, 2010).
Fourth stage: Affixes spelling and syllables
Here student learn the appropriate concepts through inflectional endings, rules and guidelines for adding inflectional endings, homophones and syllabification. Students who may be described to be in this stage are aged between 9 and 11 years old. The students are able to apply what they have previously learnt regarding one syllable word to spell longer patterns of words.
Within this stage, the students also learn how to put words in syllables. Moreover, they also to break the words into various syllables and also to add appropriate inflectional endings like –ed, -ing and –es; besides, the children also get familiar with the difference between different homophones (Slideshare, 2010).
Fifth stage: Derivational Relations Spelling
Students in this stage of spelling development are mostly from 11 to 14 years old. Here students have the ability to explore the relationship that exists between spelling and meaning, the meaning and get to learn that words that have related meaning are usually related in terms of spelling notwithstanding the changes in their sounds.
In the process of learning, the students also get to know the Greek and Latin root words in addition to derivational affixes. In this stage of spelling development, the students learn by consonant alternation, Greek and Latin affixes and root words and etymologies. The importance of Greek and Latin roots is to assist students in identifying the source and origin of a given word or group of alphabetical letters. This further aids the students in understanding more about letters and the way they should sound (Slideshare, 2010).
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The connection to phonics
Phonics relies so much on practice and drill; this has been described to get boring some times (Barnes, 2002). Phonics can be described as the process through which beginner students learn how to associate letters with the appropriate sounds.
Thus, phonics is a style by which (English) speakers are taught the language. It is about teaching how to link sounds of English language with letters or given group of letters. Phonics connects letters and sound. During reading process, a new beginner has the chore of managing a significant number of cognitive processes that include recognition of and identification of words among others.
In the process of learning spelling, phonetics instructions are developed with the objective of providing students well the relevant skills they require to automatically identify words and sentences.
Primarily, phonics instructions aim at giving a clear understanding to the learners on (written) letters and the (spoken) sounds. In fact, the main connection to phonics is the need to assist the learners with skills to be able to associate a given set of letters with specific sounds.
The best way to teach spelling and how to help English learners with spelling
There are many ways through which spelling and how to spell English can best be taught. One of the best ways of teaching is providing sufficient reading materials and encouraging students to read both at school and at homes. This implies that both parents and teachers alike should participate in teaching children how to read and associate sounds with letters.
The provided reading materials should be able to attract the interest of the children; this is because children are mostly interested in what attracts their minds. At school, the teachers should come up with specific learning periods meant for learning English spelling. The students should then be periodically evaluated in order to determine their levels of understanding the spelling of words and associating them with different relevant sounds.
Teachers can also devise spelling games where students in a spelling class compete in reading and spelling English words; the competition should be designed in such a manner in which those who read and spell correctly as many words as possible are rewarded. This will motivate the students to be interested in learning how to read and spell words even in the absence of the teacher. Parents can also play spelling games with their children back at home.
Parents should not assume that their children learn everything they need to know in school; they should also provide regularized time for their children’s school assignment every day so that the children are able to go through what they were taught and try to do what they were taught by their teacher. This will assist children in mastering spelling of words and associating them with sounds.
Spelling is the process of presenting letters in an appropriately recognized standard. The process of learning spelling is divided into a number of stages. The first stage is the emergent stage in which are found children aged between 3 and 5 years old. In this stage, the children learn to scribble words, letter-like formation and writing a few letters.
The second stage is known as the stage of alphabetic and spelling letter names. In this stage are found students aged between 5 and 7 years old. Here children learn the sounds of short vowels and principles of alphabets amongst others. The third stage is within-word pattern spelling in which the students learn the patterns of long vowels and vowels that are r-controlled. The children found in this stage are usually aged between 7 and 9 years old.
The fourth stage is referred to as affixes spelling and syllables. Here the students learn to divide worlds into syllables make use of affixes. They also learn the rules for adding inflectional endings. The fifth, and probably the final stage, is known as derivational Relations spelling. Here students are approximated to be aged 11 and 14 years old. In this stage the students get to recognize that words with related meaning normally have related spelling.
Students are taught how to connect letters of words or a group of letters with various sounds. The process of phonics entails that a student has to deal with simultaneously with a number of cognitive factors like identifying the words, constructing meanings to sentences and words and making interpretations of the meanings of those words. However, the participation of both parents and teachers is essential and is the best way to teach spelling and how to help English learners with spelling.
This requires that the students are provided with attractive materials that will attract their attention. The participation of teachers and parents should entail designing ample time for study both at school and at home and besides, the process should include some games in which students compete in reading and spelling while at school; back at home, the students should play reading and spelling games with their parents.
In all these cases, some form of reward scheme should be devised so that the students do not get bored with such games. This should be reinforced by constant encouragement from both teachers and parents to the students to be frequently engaged in learning how to make sounds and associate them with certain patterns of written letters.
Barnes, C. (2002). Standards reform in high-poverty schools: managing conflict and building capacity. United States: Teachers College Press.
Kress, G. (2000). Early spelling: between convention and creativity. New York: Rutledge.
Slideshare. (2010). Five Stages of Spelling Development. Available from: https://www.slideshare.net/guest54c71b/five-stages-of-spelling-development .