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To teach spelling, an educator needs to have a clear understanding of what spelling is, what its main regularities are, and how its elements are linked into a single system and others. Only a broad understanding of the general nature of spelling makes it possible for the teacher to accurately set specific tasks for the development of individual spelling topics (Fresch, 2007). It is also important to anticipate the difficulties encountered, understand the causes of various mistakes made by students, and find measures to prevent them.
What is Spelling and Why It Is Important to Reading and Writing
Spelling is a system of rules for spelling words that have developed historically and are accepted as the norm of written speech. The spelling literacy of a person is a reflection of his or her general and linguistic culture. The foundation of error-free reading, speaking, and writing is laid during the period of spelling training, which is an important component of overall speech and language development (Moats, 2020). Its success is determined not only by spelling knowledge and skills but also by success in reading, grammar, semantics, and speaking. Thus, spelling is mastered as a result of improving and enriching speech.
Spelling is important to reading and writing since it is understood as an integral part of the general language culture of a person. It relies on the ability to quickly detect spelling in the words and their combinations that are intended for writing or have already been written. The development of phonemic awareness and the ability to replace spelling with the corresponding letters lie at the center of literate writing (Templeton & Morris, 1999). Its foundations must be laid in primary school, and this circumstance requires special responsibility from a teacher to instill strong grammar and spelling skills from the first steps of teaching the language.
First of all, spelling instruction should include the alphabetic principle, that is, the understanding of which letters or combinations of letters match which sounds. Patterns are also an important part of teaching and learning spelling. The student listens to an example of reading a specific letter and becomes familiar with a phonetic pattern, for example, CVC one to form short vowels or CVCe / CVVC ones to form long vowels. Since the words are collected in groups, by listening to and reading these groups, a student deduces the patterns of reading (Putman, 2017). For example, after listening and repeating the phonetic patterns dip-hip-lip-nip after the teacher, most students will read the word zip-tip and the like correctly.
Spelling instruction should also include variations based on the origin of a particular word. There are words in the English language in which the familiar combination “ch” conveys other sounds (Putman, 2017). For example, in the words chemistry, technology, and technician, the combination of the letters “ch” must be pronounced [k]. This phenomenon occurs primarily in terms that are derived from the Greek language. In the words that came to English from French, the combination “ch” is spelled [ʃ].
Besides, students should know morphological information, that is, which groups of letters represent which meaning, for example, the meaning of prefixes re-, un-, in-, im-, il-, ir-, a-, non-, dis-, mis-, and others. Morphology is closely related to spelling, therefore its study is associated with the spelling rules (Putman, 2017). The morphological or morphemic principle requires a uniform spelling of morphemes, that is, prefixes, roots, suffixes, and endings.
To develop the reading, writing, and speaking skills in students means working on pronunciation, the meaning of morphemes, words, and phraseological units. It is known that spelling skill is a necessary component of reading and writing. Naturally, spelling lessons are associated with work on the development of students’ speech. Learners must go through the stage of combining the two tasks: expressing their thoughts in writing and observing spelling norms. This combination results in solid spelling skills and general language literacy.
Fresch, M. J. (2007). Teachers’ concerns about spelling instruction: A national survey. Reading Psychology, 28(1), 301–330. Web.
Moats, C.L. (2020). Teaching reading is rocket science. American Foundation of Teachers, 1-32.
Putman, R. (2017). Using research to make informed decisions about the spelling curriculum. Texas Journal of Literacy Education, 5(1), 24-30.
Templeton, S., & Morris, D. (1999). Questions teachers ask about spelling. Reading Research Quarterly, 34(1), 102-112. Web.