Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Moderators: Debbie Hepplewhite, maizie, Lesley Drake, Susan Godsland

JIM CURRAN
Posts: 3186
Joined: Fri Oct 31, 2003 7:18 am

Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by JIM CURRAN » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:16 pm

I think we need to be very careful when we advocate using the Austrian approach of “backward regularity” for not using a phonics approach to teaching spelling. One of the most persistent arguments that the whole language contingent used was that English is much too complex a code to teach using a phonics approach.

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3654
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:33 pm

I agree entirely, Jim, and thank you for starting a fresh thread about spelling in KS2 and beyond.

I would like to link to the thread which led to this one via its later pages, see below particularly pages 3 to 6 :

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4663&start=30

I have spent a number of years on thinking about how to make the English alphabetic code teachable in such a way that it IS teachable (and designing teaching and learning resources accordingly) - not only for beginning reading and spelling (and including the teaching of handwriting) but which progress 'seamlessly' into a spelling programme once learners CAN read.

My concern on the previous thread was the idea arising in the discussions that by the end of Year Two the job of the synthetic phonics teaching principles (which includes blending for reading, and segmenting for spelling) is 'job done' according to some people's views and experiences - with some word specific spelling and some word lists being the answer in KS2.

I asked if people would describe how they would teach spelling beyond Year Two so that we can look at the details of people's different ideas for KS2 (7 to 11 year olds) - literally, what would they teach, with what, and when.

chew8
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by chew8 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:18 pm

In the thread 'Beginning reading: policy influences England v USA', Debbie wrote:Jenny wrote a few posts ago:

Quote:
Yes, the Austrians have taken the nature of their language into account, but what is ironical in the context of this debate is that although the grapheme-phoneme correspondences in their language are much more predictable than those in English, they still think that they are not predictable enough to justify a phonic approach to spelling instruction at any stage (even at the very beginning) - see their comment about the 'low backward regularity' of German as quoted in an earlier message of mine. In other words, their alphabetic code is both simpler and more reversible-for-reading-and-spelling than the English alphabetic code, but they still don't think it justifies the teaching of spelling as the reverse of reading. I'm not suggesting that we copy them in every respect, because I think it's good to teach reading and spelling reversibly as far as possible in the early stages, but I do think that their line of reasoning should make us realise that there is nothing heretical about the idea of no longer emphasising the phonic side of spelling after Y2.
Then Debbie wrote:Here's a theory:

What if the Austrians tried teaching the spelling as the reverse of reading for beginners - and continued such an approach by teaching spelling by building on reversible synthetic phonics type teaching as it is promoted in England (that is, the 'teaching principles' which include teaching reading and spelling within each lesson)!

Maybe they would get better results still?
We can't base firm advice to teachers on 'what if' and 'maybe'. Hypotheses are fine, but they need to be tested before people should be firmly advised to act on them.
Debbie wrote:Jenny, you have referred to some Austrian research as an example to suggest that I am going along the wrong lines by extending a phonics programme into key stage two for teaching spelling.
I think you are wording it in a way which doesn't accurately represent my views. Any 'wrongness' I see is just in the way you state your case, which I think is sometimes more extreme than is justified by the evidence: e.g. when I wrote on 29 September that I thought 'we should be careful not to imply that we are talking about all children when what we are saying actually applies just to some children', you responded by saying that you were not 'implying' but 'saying that we definitely need phonics teaching for all children after Year 2'.

Jenny C.

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3654
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:05 pm

We seem to have come full circle!

I do think that phonics for teaching spelling should continue beyond Year Two - both for incidental support of learners in the wider curriculum and in the form of a systematic spelling programme.

I gave some examples of the type of resources and activities that would support the teaching and learning and I invited other people to describe how they would teach spelling - that is, what would lessons consist of.

Regarding Austria - in a way I was pointing out the possibilities for trialling ideas - that teaching methods and results should not be stuck in time. At one moment in time, a method or programme or school could be ahead and, later on, something else could be ahead.

Regarding Austria, therefore, I was noting that you were using the teaching methods there as part of your argument for not using phonics teaching in a reversible way for teaching spelling beyond Year Two in England, and I was just toying with the notion that maybe even in Austria they could get good or better results teaching the reversible way - but just don't realise it yet.

I'm really suggesting that building on the work of others is part and parcel of progress in many instances - and the heart of these discussions has surely been the importance of testing, the importance of keeping open minds and the importance of looking at the details underpinning what we say to minimise misunderstanding.

JAC
Posts: 517
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:51 am

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by JAC » Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:39 pm

I have no idea how spelling is taught in my school once children leave Y2. It is information not shared amongst the staff. We do now have some guidance provided by the Education Department. Generally speaking the department's advice is not something I have had confidence in although the tide is turning.

I see a range of spelling instruction approaches coming with my tutees.

The non-government Catholic schools here have systematic programmes they seem to use. There are various programmes available written by publishing companies. There is a linguistic phonics type programme written by teachers trained in PG or something very similar, one book for each year group. In WA we also have a programme recommended by Dyslexia Speld called Kitehawk.

I use the Burkard's Apples and Pears once a tutee is past the straightforward, one syllable 'reversible' code part of instruction.
I like this systematic programme enormously - lightly scripted, easily followed by a parent for more than once a week lessons. It maintains practice with segmenting whilst introducing the morphemic approach.

And some teachers simply have the weekly list of words to be learnt, some of which seem to have some sense, others just random words linked to a topic maybe.

User avatar
Susan Godsland
Administrator
Posts: 4973
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
Location: Exeter UK
Contact:

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by Susan Godsland » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:02 am

Help needed from German speakers/writers ;-)

http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/t/440763.aspx

g.carter
Posts: 1859
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2003 7:41 pm

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by g.carter » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:29 am

I'm glad that the Burkard's Apples and Pears has been flagged up. It's very systematic and thorough and has helped in some very thorny situations. And, presumably, once SP is thoroughly established, children will be atuned to listening AND observing and the hope is that it is the 1%-5% who need the Apples and Pears approach after year 2.

chew8
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by chew8 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:12 pm

Susan G. wrote:Your above comment would seem to indicate that the German writing code IS transparent in both directions.
That was in the TES thread which she flagged up.

I have a smattering of German as a result of doing a one-year course in it at university, and I know that it's not completely transparent as there are some alternatives in both the reading and spelling directions (though far fewer than in English) - e.g. 's' can be sounded as /s/, /sh/ and /z/ in reading, depending on the following letters, and the /oy/ sound can be spelt either as 'au' with an Umlaut or as 'eu'. I am in no position to put a figure on the degree of unpredictabiliy in the spelling direction, but I see no reason to distrust researchers of the calibre of Wimmer and Mayringer.

Jenny C.

chew8
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by chew8 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:51 pm

I've just re-read the whole of the Wimmer and Mayringer article. On p. 274, they give examples of real misspellings produced by children, one of which involves the /oy/ sound that I mentioned earlier, for which I've now found that 'oi' also occurs in some German words, notably in the suffix 'oid'.
Wimmer and Mayringer wrote:The words of both tests were chosen in such a way that simple phoneme–grapheme transcriptions would not result in correct spellings. For example, kommt (comes) resulted in the misspellings komt, komd, gomd, kohmmt, kom, and kont. Ha¨user (houses) was misspelled as Heuser, Heusa, Hoiser, Ha¨ser, and Heiser.
Most of the spellings are phonemically plausible, and they show that there are some spelling alternatives in German. (Sorry the Umlauts don't come out properly.)

Jenny C.

User avatar
maizie
Administrator
Posts: 3121
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: N.E England

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by maizie » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:15 pm

Jenny,

I have read the paper and don't understand this bit:
However, first to be clarified is how spelling problems can occur in an orthography such as German, which is characterised as regular. The answer is that regularity refers to grapheme-phoneme (forward regularity) but not to phoneme-grapheme (backward regularity) relations. An assymetry between forward and backward regularity is typical for many alphabetic orthographies and is the reason why, in general, reading is easier than spelling.....Formal counts of assymetric forward and backward relationship of orthographies have used body-rime consistency and not grapheme-phoneme regularity.
Wouldn't using 'body-rime' consistency to determine for the counts produce a different result from using grapeheme-phoneme regularity? And if it does, does that not mean that we are in the dark about what the actual backward regularity is for phoneme-grapheme? Could it be a different percentage from the 47% quoted in the paper?

chew8
Posts: 4171
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by chew8 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:53 am

Maizie wrote:Wouldn't using 'body-rime' consistency to determine for the counts produce a different result from using grapeheme-phoneme regularity? And if it does, does that not mean that we are in the dark about what the actual backward regularity is for phoneme-grapheme? Could it be a different percentage from the 47% quoted in the paper?
Yes, body-rime consistency would probably produce a different figure from grapheme-phoneme regularity. The point for present purposes, however, is that even if grapheme-phoneme regularity is higher than 47% in German, it's certainly not 100%. German orthography is not completely transparent for spelling (or for reading) and according to Wimmer and Mayringer this means that spelling is not taught by phonics in Austria, even to beginners. It's possible (and likely, I think), that Austrian children nevertheless deduce for themselves that they can use their phonic knowledge in spelling as well as in reading, and this may be what lies behind some of the responses Susan got on the TES forum (though one also remembered word-learning), but the fact remains that according to Wimmer and Mayringer Austrian children are not explicitly taught to use phonics in spelling.

Similarly, my contemporaries and I were not explicitly taught to use phonics for spelling after the first two or three years of school, but I certainly still carried on doing it and I know that many others did too. My point in this thread has been that after about Year 2, approaches other than the explicit teaching of phonics for spelling can work very well if the teaching of phonics for spelling has been good until then. Debbie may be right that continuing with the explicit teaching of phonics for spelling would produce even better results in the long run, but specific research would be needed to show this, and in the meantime I think dogmatism should be avoided.

Jenny C.

kenm
Posts: 1495
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Berkshire

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by kenm » Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:06 am

chew8 wrote:
Wimmer and Mayringer wrote:The words of both tests were chosen in such a way that simple phoneme–grapheme transcriptions would not result in correct spellings. For example, kommt (comes) resulted in the misspellings komt, komd, gomd, kohmmt, kom, and kont. Ha¨user (houses) was misspelled as Heuser, Heusa, Hoiser, Ha¨ser, and Heiser.
Most of the spellings are phonemically plausible
In so far as I understand German pronunciation (I don't speak it), "gomd", "kom" and "kont" sound different from "kommt", as do "Ha¨ser" and "Heiser" from "Ha¨user", so the score is plausible 6, implausible 5. The errors also raise the question of morphology. If you know "komm", "kommt" is the most plausible spelling, and "Haus" should steer you to "Ha¨user". German grammar is complicated, but it has the reputation of being rather more regular than English, and should combine helpfully with phonemics.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3654
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:20 am

I would really welcome research into the effectiveness of teaching spelling in different ways. :grin:

In the meantime, I shall continue, based on my observations of the wider picture and my personal experience, to support and encourage teachers of key stage two children to teach spelling proactively and as a seamless continuation of the infant years phonics teaching using an alphabetic code chart as a permanent reference aid and mnemonic spelling stories and word banks. ;-)

Maybe our researchers will take an interest in looking into spelling methods and programmes. They don't seem to have been very interested thus far. I know that Diane McGuinness comments on the absence of research for spelling.

She did draw our attention, however, to one piece of research which highlighted the potential damaging effect of looking at wrong spellings even with mature competent spellers - but this has not prevented the promotion of using non-words in some phonics programmes! I shall try to find the reference to that research.

There are many aspects of teaching which can affect spelling results - one example is teachers devoting sufficient time to teaching spelling, another example is teachers' approach to marking written work. It is not only the 'method' or 'resources' per se that may make a difference. Part of my passion is just making sure that teachers themselves are knowledgeable about the alphabetic code and spelling - and that schools are accountable for providing a structured and guaranteed spelling programme.

Whereas there may be children who can pick up word specific spelling through their own auspices and with a good synthetic phonics background in the infants, there is surely an overarching responsibility to provide teaching and learning opportunities so that all the children are well served beyond Year Two.

User avatar
maizie
Administrator
Posts: 3121
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 10:38 pm
Location: N.E England

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by maizie » Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:38 am

Debbie Hepplewhite wrote:She did draw our attention, however, to one piece of research which highlighted the potential damaging effect of looking at wrong spellings even with mature competent spellers - but this has not prevented the promotion of using non-words in some phonics programmes! I shall try to find the reference to that research.
But non-words are not the same as misspelled words. Surely Diane was referring to 'proof reading' type exercises where pupils have to find misspelled real words?

User avatar
Debbie Hepplewhite
Administrator
Posts: 3654
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:13 pm
Location: Berkshire
Contact:

Re: Teaching spelling in KS2 and beyond

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:02 pm

In truth, I need to find the reference and read up on it.

To me, seeing non-words and seeing mis-spelled words are both inadvisable - but, no, I don't have research to support this suggestion - just my own observations, teaching experience and logic.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests