Why the NLP spelling method is flawed

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Susan Godsland
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Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:10 pm
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Why the NLP spelling method is flawed

Post by Susan Godsland » Sun Jul 08, 2007 7:05 pm

maizie's posting from the 'Seeing Spells Success - anyone?' string:

Well, for a start, there's one huge flaw in their method, namely, it is impossible for the average human brain being able to 'store' more than about 2,000 words as 'images' (which is, basically, what this technique is demanding) (See D. McGuinness: Why Children Can't Read). As there are some 250,000 words in a standard English dictionary, this leaves children somewhat at a loss as to what to do with the other 248,000.

Also, how many words a week do you think children could 'learn' this way? Say 20? (though this is probably on the high side). At 20 words per week, 1,000 words per year (on the unlikely premis that they would learn 20 words a week for 50 weeks of the year), it would take about 250 years to work through the standard dictionary!

I know this is rather frivolous, in that most people don't use anything like the full lexicon in their writing, but, even if they used about 10,000 words, it would take 10 years, and what happens when they want to write a word they haven't learned to spell? If they don't have a secure grasp of the letter/sound correspondences (which this method doesn't appear to teach at all) how will they go about writing/spelling the word they want?

The legacy that Whole Language has left to spelling is the complete misconception that spelling is a visual process. It isn't, it's process of converting sounds to graphemes, so it is an aural process - hear the sound, write the grapheme. Anyone who can convert sounds to graphemes will be able to communicate clearly via the written word, even if their 'spelling' is not 'correct'. Good spellers use a combination of kinaesthetic memory (every word has a unique 'feel' to it when written) and a good memory for the particular way phonemes are represented in discrete words. Kinaesthetic memory is strengthened by constant writing of the word (those old teachers of ours who made us write out correct spellings ten times had science on their side!). In the same way that repeated decoding of a word leads to the instant recall that is called reading a word on 'sight', so constant practice of writing a word leads to an automatic kinaesthetic recall. When you are writing by hand, how many words do you have to consciuosly 'think' about the spelling of?

The only visual element of spelling is where a skilled reader can look at a word they have written and know, from having encountered it in print so often, that it 'looks' wrong.

I do appreciate that some people do have good visual recall of words, we've discussed this here before, but equally as many people don't!

And that's my take on the subject

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