Is it important to improve spelling?
To improve spelling skills is important even in the digital age.
We now have computers with word processing programs which have spell checkers. These can auto correct spelling errors as you write. As a result some have queried the importance of teaching our children correct spelling. For many years, some in education have suggested that focusing on spelling holds back the creative process of writing. If children worry about correct spelling and grammar rules, they do not write as imaginatively. They do not use words they think of because they are unsure of how to spell them. These educationalists argue that students will naturally develop skills through reading.
Improve spelling and communication
Speaking, Reading, Writing and Spelling are the basics of communication
No one would doubt that communication between people is of fundamental importance. We need to communicate with others constantly. Learning comes about through absorbing new ideas and facts about the world we live in. We hear, we speak, we read and we write. Spelling is part of that communication process. It is “the art of correctly assembling words from their letters.” Being confident in spelling leads to confidence in all aspects of literacy. Recognising links between words of the same origin and understanding how words relate to each other helps comprehension skills when reading. Teaching spelling benefits students. They can read and understand more complex texts. They have more tools to express themselves in their writing.
What about texting – the modern method of communication
The use of texting and abbreviated and misspelt words now seems to be accepted. Students can be tested on texting skills in communications studies. Most young people text on their mobile phones rather than talk. Most text abbreviations are phonetically based, such as “wot” for “what” and combination texts, such as “C U L8r”. Many children also used a form of youth code, a casual form of language such as “dat fing”, “gonna” or “wanna”. Texting is more like talking than writing.
A Living Language constantly changes
Language changes over time are unavoidable. They also are common and expected and should be welcome. A language is not static but adapts to reflect cultural and technological changes. Things like email, texting, and Facebook have led to new words forming. There are new grammatical changes, and other modifications that are both subtle and noticeable.
In view of this how important is it to teach spelling? How important are the spelling lists all our children have to master.
Testing your communication skills and spelling
Try reading this extract
“Aoccdrnig to rscheearch by the Lngiusiitc Dptanmeret at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”
“According to research by the Linguistic Department at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole.”
This paragraph has circulated on the internet since 2003. It is sometimes used to defend inconsistent (poor) spelling, or choosing not to teach it.
Why could you read it?
If you could read the first paragraph and did not need the translation it is because you are a fluent reader. You could figure out the predictable text. Professor Jones says the path to fluent reading includes a firm foundation in the sounds represented by letters and their spelling. Do we read the whole words in an instant, or by sounds?
A fluent reader quickly sees the whole word but to achieve this the reader has mastered the connection between letter combinations and the sounds they represent. Spelling is an integral part of language. Teaching spelling and handwriting enables students including those who struggle, to use different senses and strengths to learn and master the relationship between the sounds and symbols of our language.
Teaching Spelling is still important because:
It develops good communication skills
The student becomes a better reader and creative writer and develops comprehension skills
Correct spelling makes a good impression
A job application and a resume with spelling errors is unlikely to get you the job. People do notice spelling errors.
Teaching Spelling is still important for other reasons less obvious
Do not embarrass yourself like Donald Trump
Donald Trump is known for his tweets. Unfortunately his spelling is not the best. One of his more famous gaffes was the “covfefe” tweet. On May 31, 2017 Trump tweeted, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”: The tweet stopped after that. “Covfefe” was an apparent mistyping of the word “coverage”. The Press had a field day!
The came the Prince of Whales!
Donald Trump makes gaffe as he calls Charles the ‘Prince of Whales’
It is a lifestyle skill useful for instance in Scrabble
It is important even in the tattoo parlor
Our Spelling App can help
How can I get my child to do his homework and learn the spelling lists?
This is what I wrote when I first put the app on the App Store.
I first decided to write this app to try to fix the constant struggle I had been having with my then 9 year old son. It was so difficult to get him to complete his weekly spelling words.
His homework and probably that of 90% of the primary school kids in Australia mainly consists of 10-15 spelling words of which he has to Look, Say, Cover and Write.
He also has to learn a particular times table by writing it out. As I am not especially organised I did not have the time to do this with him. Unfortunately I was not able to even ensure he was doing his homework. Sadly we were often trying to do it on the way to school Friday morning.
I work full time and have 5 children. It is not just the lack of time. I also found his delaying tactics excruciating. He searched for his homework book, pencil, pencil sharpener, got a drink, went to the toilet. Often he just seemed to go missing for ages.
By then I generally give up.
Spelling App – a Homework Helper
So I wrote the app and then he could do his spelling list. Below is a screen shot from the app to show you what it can do.
Also as a bonus I added times tables practice. Below is a screen shot from the app.
He could do this on iPhone or IPAD. Happily he could complete homework on the way to football training or shopping. I have recently updated this app to include printing completed spelling lists results. Also there is an option to email to the teacher. I have recently added over 1000 grade appropriate spelling words. This will help your child get up to speed for spelling at their year level. Homework help is available on iPad, iPod and iPhone.
Enter Weekly Spelling Words.
Each week as the homework spelling list comes home with your child from school, enter the new list into the app.
Record the word and sentence to give the word context. Have your child complete the spelling list until 100% is achieved. A random test can also be selected from all the spelling lists entered so far.
It is good to see the word in context in a sentence and for your child to hear the word and get an extra clue from the sentence. The child types the word in and hopefully gets a gold star.
Try out the app from the app store. It is free. See if it helps. Click on the icon to access the app store.
It is now also available for Android.