Thursday, May 17, 2012

How should spelling be taught?

I was talking to a friend who was complaining about having to drill her 11-year old boy on spelling.  The boy goes to a different international school here and in that school, he's actually taught many rules of spelling.  As many as 16 rules, which I find kind of absurd.  Something like if a word ends with a vowel, say, Hope, then you don't add a p before -ing, so it's Hoping, but if it ends with a consonant, say Hop, then you add a p, it becomes Hopping.  I may be wrong with my examples, but this is the gist of it.  Even for words ending with -sion or -tion, apparently there's a rule for that, if it's someone's job/profession, then it ends with -sion.  Really??

On the other hand, at Sean's elementary school, I don't think spelling is even taught.  They don't even correct misspelt words, as far as I know.  Sean is generally fine with spelling and this is from reading lots.  I've never had to give him lists of spelling to learn from, and no, no drilling ever.  I believe kids who read a lot will find spelling relatively easy, recalling from memory words they've seen in print and noticing patterns in different words.

And then there's this, where teachers 'correct' spellings which aren't even wrong in the first place!


justpassingby said...

I guess the teaching of spelling rules has merit, especially in a classroom where you will probably have children with special needs such as dyslexia... For most neurotypical children, spelling doesn't have to be taught - they simply pick it up "by the way" as they read and develop in language... but children with dyslexia and other processing disorders need to be taught specific rules in order for them to spell accurately since their brains don't pick up such patterns naturally. I have two dyslexic children, and I know that I have often wished that they would teach all children the rules that my children learn in their OG lessons (which is intervention classes for their dyslexia - OG stands for Orton-Gillingham, the fellas who came up with the system for intervention).

My kids know the rule you mentioned as the 1-1-1 rule. If a word has 1 syllable, 1 short vowel and ends with 1 consonant, then you double the end consonant when adding a suffix. So "hop" fulfills the 1-1-1 criteria, and therefore gets it's "p" doubled, whereas a word like "list" has 1 syllable, 1 short vowel but 2 end consonants, so you just add the suffix without changing the root word... ie "listed" or "listing". "Hope" is a word with 1 syllable, but has 2 vowels ( one of which is a long vowel) and doesn't end with a consonant, so again, you don't double anything... but "hope" is also a silent "e" word, so it follows a different rule for words that end with the silent "e", which says that you drop the "e" before adding the suffix. Something like that. :)

Lilian said...

I see. I suppose there should be different methods for different kids. Dyslexic kids obviously need to learn certain rules but for the rest, I feel these rules may impede rather than help them.