Spelling

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

Spelling

Post by chew8 » Fri Mar 05, 2021 2:48 pm

I’ve always believed in laying solid phonics foundations for spelling as well as for reading. I've also believed, however, that other things, such as morphology, soon start to become important for spelling, and I’ve often said this in the RRF forum. My thoughts on this have been based on the types of errors I saw teenagers making in their general written work over four decades, and in their spelling test scripts from 1984-99.

A new article is highly relevant: Tessa Daffern & Robert Fleet (2021): Investigating the efficacy of using error analysis data to inform explicit teaching of spelling, Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, DOI: 10.1080/19404158.2021.1881574. The error analysis led to the development of an intervention where Australian children aged 8-12 were taught how to use not just phonological but also orthographic and morphological strategies in spelling. It’s also worth reading the article by Daffern and Mackenzie in the September 2020 issue of UKLA’s Literacy, which reports on case studies of 8 very weak spellers aged 8-12. The researchers found that ‘the low-achieving spellers over-relied on phonological strategies to spell, at the expense of using other linguistic strategies’.

Note, too, that Diane McGuinness has always advocated a morphemic approach, rather than a purely phonemic one, for certain aspects of English spelling - see the recent thread on her book Sound Steps to Reading.

Anyone involved in any way with the teaching of spelling, particularly from Year 2 up, really does need to take Tessa Daffern's kind of research into account. If schools in England are following the National Curriculum, as they should be doing, they will find that the spelling appendix for Key Stages 1 and 2 covers much of the necessary ground.

Jenny C.

chew8
Posts: 4198
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Spelling

Post by chew8 » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:23 am

Dr Tessa Daffern has now shared a link to a Youtube presentation of hers in another forum, and I have her permission to share it more widely:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ComEHVhXbHg

It's full of very useful facts and figures.

Jenny C.

chew8
Posts: 4198
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Spelling

Post by chew8 » Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:05 pm

I want to add something about spelling rules. About 40 years ago, I asked the head of the English dept. I was working in what spelling rules he could think of. He replied ‘I before e except after c’ then ground to a halt. I think many people would still react very similarly, and some would then proceed to say that words such as ‘seize’, ‘conscience’, ‘vein’ and ‘foreign’ show that this rule doesn’t work. In fact the rule was only ever intended to apply to words in which the ‘c’ is followed by an /ee/ sound, and there are very few of them - three pairs, all with the same root (conceive, conceit, deceive, deceit, receive, receipt) and a one-off (ceiling). It’s easier to learn them and forget the ‘rule’.

Others who are dismissive of rules have been influenced by Diane McGuinness – e.g. her statement that ‘There are no spelling rules. Forget about rules. Forget about those generalizations.' (Early Reading Instruction, p. 44). But not long afterwards, she refers to ‘the transformations that occur when prefixes and suffixes are added to root words’. She writes ‘These are reasonably well known and sufficiently orderly (See McGuinness 1998a). For example, if a root word ends in e, this must be dropped prior to adding a suffix that begins with a vowel, such as -ing or -ed. When adding a suffix to CVC-type words with “simple” vowels, if the suffix starts with a vowel (-ing, -ed -er, -y) the final consonant is doubled to preserve the vowel sound.. Examples involving bat include batting, batted, batter and batty (not bating, bated, bater and baty). This is a fairly stable convention, coming about as close as it gets to a rule in our spelling code.. Adding prefixes poses no problems, because no transformations are necessary.’ (pp. 62-3)

So having said ‘There are no rules’, McGuinness does allow for some rules which, in fact, cover thousands of words. They, and a few others, featured in my 1992 pamphlet Spelling Rules OK which was written to help the teenagers I was teaching and was based on the kinds of errors they made in their written work. It used to be available on the RRF website but has apparently been removed. Could it be reinstated? I can send it in a suitable form.

Jenny C.









In fact, though, there are many rules, or at least guidelines, which are much more useful, particularly those which involve morphology. So

chew8
Posts: 4198
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Spelling

Post by chew8 » Tue Jun 22, 2021 12:13 pm

Sorry about the rogue extra line in the above.

I've just seen that Daffern and Mackenzie have won an award for one of the articles I mentioned in the first post in this thread - very well deserved:

https://ukla.org/news/ukla-announces-th ... ward-2021/

Jenny C.

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

Re: Spelling

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Jul 09, 2021 7:34 am

Keep parents out of it: the expert who wants schools to give up weekly spelling tests.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... ary-school

chew8
Posts: 4198
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2003 6:26 pm

Re: Spelling

Post by chew8 » Mon Jul 19, 2021 3:55 pm

I've now watched the 'literacy drive' video linked to in the Guardian article. I found the delivery quite off-putting (I could have done without all the hangover jokes) but some of the ideas were quite good.

There is obviously a difference between teaching spelling and testing it, but I think there is a place for spelling tests after the teaching has been done. I've mentioned before what was done with Y3 children at a school where I helped until 2017. Each week, they had a list of 15 words - most (10, I think) illustrated a pattern/rule/guideline from the National Curriculum spelling appendix, 2 or 3 were words related to topics being covered in class in various subjects, and the other 2 or 3 were from the statutory list for Years 3/4. That seemed like a good balance.

Jenny C.

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