SPELLING

This Section contains information on the following topics- 

Spelling and Instruction

Some Basic Spelling Essentials

Teaching Homophones

Spelling: A Miscue Analysis

Resources

References

Additional information on Spelling is included in the Learning Disability Section.

                   SPELLING AND INSTRUCTION

For many children the path to accurate spelling skills is the heuristic one of exploration and discovery; with experience and maturity, knowledge of spelling is almost “caught”. For others, specific, explicit instruction is necessary to ensure that these skills develop that is, they must be “taught”.

At the Primary School level, the development of spelling should be encouraged through the teaching of:

Using:

At the Secondary School level, several factors contribute to a change in instructional emphasis. These include:

While basic skill development should continue at the secondary level, the focus of instruction tends to move towards encouraging students to develop cognitive learning strategies. If necessary, accommodations should be considered in instruction and assessment.

Appropriate activities in skill development include:

Cognitive Learning Strategies:

Accommodations 

For a student who, despite all efforts, continues to struggle with the mechanics of written expression and particularly spelling, a range of accommodations should be considered.

The aim of making accommodations is to provide the student with access to the standard curriculum. An adapted curriculum may, however, be necessary in some cases.

Possible accommodations:

SOME BASIC SPELLING ESSENTIALS

I have found that students, irrespective of age, find the following “essentials” helpful, especially when trying to fathom out the many apparent inconsistencies in English spelling. Of course, in a “formal” sense, some of the information below will be beyond the understanding of many very young students but introduced carefully, it should provide helpful insights into the complexities of our written language. 

Often, teachers are swamped with a torrent of materials including special commercial packages, activities, games, strategies, computer software, spelling rules and exceptions that are considered important in planning and implementing a spelling program.

Some “Essential” knowledge and skills considered worthy of teaching in a spelling program follow-

The 26 letters of the alphabet are usually recognised by their NAME.

The 26 letters of the alphabet can “make” more than 44 SOUNDS.

Linguistically, letters are called graphemes and sounds are called phonemes and phonemes are combined to form a morpheme or a spoken word.

The 26 letters can be grouped into

Most letters are consonants which can be classified as being-

Vowels are more variable than consonants
Vowels can be classified as being

 

Short Vowels 

The SOUND of the letter is articulated-a,e,i,o,u.

Usually has a regular letter-sound correspondence.

Usually only one vowel to “spell” a short vowel sound.

Some common irregulars e.g., ea-head, bread.

A common short vowel spelling pattern is VCCV-a vowel followed by two consonants and then a vowel.

Long Vowels

The NAME of the letter is articulated-A,E,I,O,U

Many complexities, hence the very difficult aspect of English spelling.

Usually two vowels “spell” a long vowel sound.

A useful reminder-When two vowels go for a walk-usually the first will talk.

A common spelling pattern is the distant modification of “e” on the other vowels (a-e, i-e, o-e, u-e)-often taught as “e” on the end of a word makes the first vowel say its own name-e.g., a in lake.

 Major long vowel spelling patterns with their estimated frequency of occurrence

 A % 

E % 

  I %

O %

 U %

a-e   80

e     70

i-e   74

o-e   87

u-e  90

ai      9

ee   10

y     14

oa    5

ew   3

ay     5

ea   10

igh    6

ow    5

eu    3



I have found it helpful to teach students to HEAR the difference between the vowel sounds in target spoken words. For instance, I would say- “listen for the vowel sound in the word
hop, if you hear the SOUND of the vowel (which “looks” short/quick on the lips and “sounds” short to the ear) that is likely to be a short vowel and hence one vowel is used in spelling; if you hear the NAME of the vowel as in the word hope (which “looks” long on the lips and “sounds” long/extended to the ear) two vowels will usually be used in spelling”.

Students quickly learn to hear the difference between short and long vowel “sounds” in spoken words and hence have a very useful starting point for spelling a given word-

Students find this step quite easy and hence reduce their initial uncertainty of not knowing whether to use one or two vowels in words.

A very “understandable” error occurs next when the student, spelling long vowels is unsure of what two vowels are used, say to spell boat. If "bote" is written, this is a more informed error than if only one vowel is used, e.g., "bot". The progression to accurate spelling should eventually come with direct attention to the selected word using flashcards etc.

Students also find such activities as the following, interesting and fun!

The letter a is pronounced differently in the following words-making the five short vowel sounds in these words-

and making other sounds in these words

Students like to make lists of the different ways of spelling the long vowel sounds e.g., “o

I recommend that teachers use one of the basic word lists in planning an early spelling program. These lists including the Dolch 220, Fries, 300, Oxford, 307, Magic Words 200, contain words that represent over 50% of the words used in written language. Hence, they should be a central part of early spelling lists. These are basic, essential, “glue-words” that need to be read and spelled accurately. I have stressed the need to introduce young students to these words in a reading program and have suggested strategies to assist students master these words in the Reading Section. As many of these words are phonetically irregular, they are best learned as whole, “sight-words”.

A suggested activity to teach basic words

Firstly, it is important to check that the words can be read before expecting them to be spelled.

Mention has been made of a strategy that I have recommended to teachers and parents. As the feedback has been very positive, it would seem worthwhile to provide details on the way basic words and other selected words can be taught.

Once the target word has been identified either through direct assessment or through a search of workbooks to find spelling errors, the word is printed on the front of a flashcard. On the back of the flashcard, the same word is written with the “error”, “tricky bit” or “demon” letter(s) in red. For example, using the target word “any”-

          Front                            Back 

            any                         any                        

When introducing the word to the child, the teacher/parent places the word on the desk/table before the child and says-

“This word is “any”. Look at this word. You found it a “tricky” word to spell. The “tricky” bit is written in red on the back of this card”. Parent/teacher turns the card over and shows the child saying-“See the letter “a” is red”. This can be repeated for two or three other “tricky” words during the session.

When each word is again placed before the child, (front side up), the teacher/parent asks “Which letter is red”? If the child is correct, turn the card over and reinforce the correct choice with praise- saying “Well done”. If the child forgets or chooses the wrong letter, turn the card over and say-“Have a look or check your answer”. “Where is the “tricky” bit?” Have the child say the letter then add “Yes, well done”. “We will try this word again later to see if you can remember the “tricky” bit”.

This activity can be repeated several times during the week. New words can be included while “known” words can be removed from the set. The set of words should not exceed 4 or 5 words at any one time. It is important to reintroduce the “known” words at regular intervals to reinforce correct spelling.

Three of these basic words lists are presented below. Other basic word lists are included in the Reading Section.

The Dolch Basic Sight Vocabulary of 220 Frequently Used Words

all

do

help

my

seven

use

always

does

her 

myself

shall

 

am

done

here

 

she

very

an

don’t

him

never

show

 

and

down

his

new

sing

walk

any

draw

hold

no

sit

want

are

drink

hot

not

six

warm

around

 

how

now

sleep

was

as

eat

hurt

 

small

wash

ask

eight

 

of

so

we

at

every

I

off

some

well

ate

 

if

old

soon

went

away

fall

in

on

start

were

 

far

into

once

stop

what

be

fast

is

one

 

when

because

find

it

only

take

where

been

first

its

open

tell

which

before

five

 

or

ten

white

best

fly

jump

our

thank

who

better

for

just

out

that

why

big

found

 

over

the

will

black

four

keep

own

their

wish

blue

from

kind

 

them

with

both

full

know

pick

then

work

bring

funny

 

play

there

would

brown

 

laugh

please

these

write

but

gave

let

pretty

they

 

buy

get

light

pull

think

yellow

by

give

like

put

this

yes

 

go

little

 

those

you

call

goes

live

ran

three

your

came

going

long

read

to

 

can

good

look

red

today

 

carry

got

 

ride

together

 

clean

green

made

right

too

 

cold

grow

make

round

try

 

come

 

many

run

two

 

There is general agreement that students are normally able to read these words by Grade 2 and spell most of them by Grade 3.

Source:

Dolch, E. W. (1955).   Methods in Reading.  Champaign Illinois: The Garrad Publishing Co., (pp. 373-374).

The Davidson and Wicking List

These twelve words make up, on average, one quarter of all reading:

a   and   he   I   in   is   it   of   that   the   to   was


The following twenty words, together with the above twelve words make up, on average, one third of all reading:

all   as      at    be     but    are   for      had   have   him

his   not   on   one   said   so     they   we     with   you

The following sixty-eight words, together with the thirty-two words above make up, on average, one half of all reading.

about   an       back      been      before    big      by         call        came     can

come    could    did         do         down     first    from      get        go         has

her      here     if           into       just       like     little      look       made     make

more    me       much     must      my        no      new       now       off        old

only     or        our        other     out        over    right      see       she       some

their     them    then      there     this       two     up         want     well       went

were    what    when     where    which    who    will        your

 

After the words listed above, the following are considered to be the one hundred most commonly used words.

after     again        always   am        another  any       ask     away

bad       because    best      bird       black     blue       boy     bring

day       dog          don’t

eat       every      

far        fast         father    fell        find       five       fly      four    found

gave     girl           give       going     good      got        green

hand     have        head      help       home     house    how

jump     

keep      know       

last       left          let         live        long

man      many        may       men       mother

once     open        own       play       put

ran        read         red        room      round     run

sat        saw         say       school    should    sing       sit      soon   step

take      tell           than      these     thing     think      three   time    too     tree

under    us

very     

walk      white       why       wish      work      would

year       

Suggestion: Do not present the above list to children as a whole as given here. Rather, group the words in some meaningful way and add others to reinforce the pattern.

For example: fight, sight, might or to, too, two.

Then encourage children to add to the list.

Source: Davidson, C and Wicking, B. (1975).  Spelling . . . a phonic approach.  Australia International Press and Publications: Melbourne, p.51.

 

I have included the following words in my Basic Word List because of their frequency of use and their utility include the following-

 Some “Mathematical” Words

In addition to the “number” words included in the above lists, the following words could be included-

 zero

nine

eleven

twelve

thirteen

fourteen

fifteen
 

sixteen

seventeen

eighteen

nineteen

twenty

thirty

forty
 

fifty

sixty

seventy

eighty

ninety

hundred

thousand
 

 Words involving the basic processes/algorithms-

add

addition

plus

more than

 

minus

subtract

take away

less than

 

multiply

times

multiplication

tables

 

divide

division

 

 

 

 Some other general words-

answer

area

cent

centimetre

change

circle

clock

coin

count

decimal

different

digital

dollar

empty

equal

equation

even

few

figure

fraction

gram

groups

half

hour

last

least

less

litre

kilogram

kilometre

metre

number

note

odd

rectangle

same

second

short

square

tall

third

time

triangle

twice

whole

 

 

 



 

Some Instructional Words

These are some words that are frequently used when teachers are giving young children written directions or instructions in the classroom-

check

choose

close

colour

copy

circle

cross

fold

follow

list

mark

match

place

print

show

tick

touch

trace

turn

select

underline

 

THE OXFORD WORD LIST

The recently published list by Oxford University Press, 2008, contains words gathered under the guidance of staff at the University of Melbourne. The list contains the 307 most frequently used words in the writing samples of students in their first three years of school. The words are listed in order of frequency. Words 299 to 307 occurred with equal frequency. This influenced the number of words on the list.

The most cited of all word lists is the Dolch 220 basic sight vocabulary which appears above. This list was derived from a compilation of children’s oral vocabulary and words commonly found in young children’s reading material. The agreement level of 54% with the Oxford List reflects both the changes in language usage over time and also Dolch’s decision to exclude all nouns.

Reference

The Oxford Wordlist Research Study: An Investigation of High Frequency Words in Young Children’s Writing and Reading Development. Oxford University Press. Melbourne. 2007.

Classroom resources based on the list including flashcards and games are available at-

www.oup.com.au/the successfulteacher

Words 1–307 in Order of Frequency

I

for

ate

friend

really

old

funny

together

snake

the

dad

get

their

could

woke

book

walk

jumped

and

but

lived

put

shop

ball

bad

great

place

to

saw

am

gave

would

come

things

icecream

show

a

house

him

found

eat

ever

yesterday

loved

where

was

that

watched

from

fish

new

computer

magic

everyone

my

weekend

little

down

this

room

help

work

or

went

time

can

water

ran

nice

zoo

coming

shark

we

her

bought

party

first

scared

now

someone

something

on

go

brother

about

by

who

ride

team

asked

it

came

big

took

food

inside

castle

thing

OK

then

because

birthday

good

named

it’s

toy

always

scary

he

up

them

other

baby

tree

cousins

boat

every

had

his

bed

see

cat

cake

look

red

walked

in

once

made

girl

outside

best

more

teacher

read

they

after

name

boy

away

fell

tried

its

world

with

fun

too

over

favourite

long

find

princess

monster

of

like

next

us

has

movie

four

shopping

slide

there

some

dog

your

family

soccer

I’m

until

thank

got

have

lots

off

lunch

how

happily

only

white

she

are

night

three

man

also

started

black

buy

said

out

not

dinner

shops

know

dragon

garden

dressed

played

going

friends

liked

football

last

much

still

fast

one

called

into

won

looked

sleep

rabbit

beautiful

head

is

all

an

morning

wanted

swimming

five

pool

walking

were

play

park

playing

bike

don’t

turned

take

why

day

Sunday

will

want

no

just

another

well

blue *

so

upon

car

happy

lost

told

make

animals

dogs *

when

Saturday

our

what

TV

yes

cousin’s

horse

footy *

home

did

do

as

fairy

around

breakfast

movies

here *

you

school

sister

love

cousin

lot

chips

names

killed *

at

two

be

if

stayed

today

door

bit

need *

me

very

people

again

Friday

beach

couldn’t

race

playground *

mum

back

didn’t

game

games

finished

present

sad

that’s *

The 200 Magic Words (M200W) in Level Order

First Set of 100-Golden-Violet                Second Set of 100-Pink-Lemon

Golden

so

see

then

Pink

how    

take

Lemon

a

they

she 

were

after

kind 

thing

any

and

we

two

what

am

left

tree

because

be

with

who

will

boy

man

water

blue

I

you

Orange

your

day

mother

work

every

in

Blue

back

Violet

eat

own

Lime

fell

is

an

bee

about

five

room

another

gave

it

by

came

before

fly

say

bad

green

of

do

down

could 

girl

step

black

house

that

go

from 

first

good

these

don’t

last

the

if

into

little

help

too

father

long

to

me 

just

look

home

walk

found

morning

was

my

like

more

jump

wish

got

open

Red 

no

made

other

play

Aqua

head

red

all

up

much

right

ran 

always

know

sat

as

or

over

their

read

away

live

soon

are

Green

them

there

saw

bird

may

than

at

big

this 

want

sing

dog

once

time

but

can

well

where

sit

fast

put

very

for

did

went

which

think

four

run

why

had

get

when 

us

going

should

year

have

has

Indigo

Purple

hand

tell

he

him

call

 

again

keep

three

her

new

come

ask

let

under

his

now

here

best

many

white

not

off 

make

bring

night

would

on

old

must

far

people 

one

our

only

find

round

said

out

some

give

school

Source: Author-Reiter, M. (2003). Publisher-ACER Press.

TEACHING HOMOPHONES

Homophones are a group of words pronounced in the same way but differing in meaning and/or spelling. Predictably, such words cause many students difficulties. Some students continue to be confused with these words throughout their school years. The direct, explicit teaching of homophones is recommended.

Suggestions for Teaching

Use pictorial cues where possible. Have cards with the target word together with an associated picture.

Card activities-

Specific spelling activities should also aid correct usage, including the following-

A List of Homophones

Obviously, this is not a complete list of homophones but a selection of words that are commonly used by students in their early to mid primary school years. This is a critical time to introduce such words as classroom teachers, at this stage of learning, are typically involved in the explicit, direct and systematic teaching of word recognition and spelling.

aloud                allowed

alter                altar

beach                beech

bear                bare

been                bean

birth                berth

blue                blew

brake                break

buy                bye                by

cell                sell        

cereal                serial

cheap                cheep

check                cheque        

chord                cord

creek                creak

dear                deer

desert                dessert

die                dye

draws                drawers

herd                heard

hour                our

in                inn

fare                fair

fir                fur

flee                flea

flower                flour

foul                fowl

hair                hare

heal                heel

herd                heard

hole                whole

hour                our

knew                new

made                maid

mail                male

main                mane

mare                mayor

maze                maize

meat                meet

morning        mourning

night                knight

not                knot

pain                pane

pair                pare

pale                pail

passed                past

peace                piece

pier                peer

plain                plane

poor                pour

prey                pray

rain                rein

rap                wrap

rays                raise

raw                roar

red                read

read                reed

right                write

ring                wring

road                rode

rose                rows

saw                sore                soar

seem                seam

sell                cell

sew                sow

sight                site

some                sum

stair                stare

steak                stake

steel                steal

there                their                they’re

threw                through

tied                tide

to                two                too

toe                tow

weather        whether

week                weak

where                ware

which                witch

would                wood

SPELLING: A MISCUE ANALYSIS

General

The identification and classification of spelling errors (similar in nature to the well recognised error /miscue analysis in reading) provides a critical starting point for explicit instruction. Errors provide a direct insight into a student’s ability to-

Errors provide the best insight into a student’s spelling problems and instructional needs. While formal spelling tests or teacher initiated spelling tests/checks are sources of valuable information, a student’s spelling in their workbooks or in their creative writing, provide the most valuable insight into their actual, “natural” spelling knowledge and skills and are the best sources of both diagnostic and instructional information.

In the assessment of a student’s spelling, it is important to use as many sources and genres of written material as possible:

For example:

tests -formal/informal

dictation

creative writing

letters or diaries

academic work

work-books are a rich source of “errors”

The following framework can be used for the analysis of individual spelling errors: 

Type of Error

Example

Correct

Omission of needed letter(s)

 

 

  • silent

mak

make

  • sounded 

assit, istance

assist, instance

Omission of syllable(s)

primaly

preliminary

Addition of letter(s)

drasning

dancing

Substitution of letter(s)

definate

definite

 

anchious

anxious

Transposition of:

 

 

  • letters 

esle

else

  • syllables 

capitacy

capacity

Phonetic equivalent

garantee

guarantee

 

shrood

shrewd

Mispronunciation

reconition

recognition

Rule application

duteis, fited

duties, fitted

 

plane

plan

Bizarre

rakl

stupid

Reversal of letter formation

buddle

bubble

Handwriting error

liltte

little

Patterns of Errors

The most important pattern of errors to identify is that reflecting the predominant use of either visual or phonological strategies in spelling.

Is the student largely relying on visual strategies (presumably because he/she has difficulty with the analysis of sounds in words or because he/she has not been taught word-attack skills)?

Typical errors:

Is the student largely relying on phonological strategies (presumably because he/she has difficulty either perceiving words as “visual wholes” or visually analysing words, or because he/she has not been encouraged to use this as a strategy)?

Typical errors:

Is the student demonstrating difficulty with the application of both visual and phonological strategies (because of underdeveloped phonological analysis and visual gestalt and analysis skills or limited learning experiences)?

 It is also important to identify specific areas of difficulty or underdeveloped knowledge.

Grapheme / phoneme correspondence

Vowels

Consonants

Syllabification

 Rules

 Morphemes

 

A range of instructional strategies is also included in the Learning Disability Section.

 

RESOURCES

Following the established tradition on my website, I will provide up-to-date resources and references but also maintain original resources and references to give some historical context. This approach should enable the interested reader to identify trends in the development of educational and instructional resources. The original resources-now dated- were those that I used in my private practice so that I could comment personally on their usefulness. Having retired from private practise, I am unable to vouch for the usefulness of new specific resources, software and programs, but give the reader relevant websites for them to explore the extensive range of current material.

Dated Material

Books

Macmillan Primary Texts: Spelling Rules, A-G

Wizard Books: Spelling (S. Clarke), Grades 5-9

Software

Current Material

Links

Valuable information on spelling is contained on the Department of Education and Training website Victorian Curriculum. This information appears in the English Mode-Writing.  

Victorian Curriculum-https://www.education.vic.gov.au/schools

The collection of resources in the Readingrockets Program provides excellent information on writing and spelling. Also check the following-Reading 101-A Guide to Teaching Reading and Writing.

www.readingrockets.org

Other useful links are the following-

Texts and Resources

ACER                                                       www.acerpress.com.au

Amazon Books                                         www. amazon.com

Pearson Australia                                       www.pearson.com.au/

Pearson Uk                                        www.pearsoned.co.uk/bookshop/

Teacher Resource Books and Software

ACER                                                       https://shopacer.ed.au/

Amazon                                                   https://uedata.amazon.com

Campion Education                                     http://www.campion.com.au/

Dominie                                                        www.dominie.com.au

Edalive                                                    www.edalive.com/products

Edresources                                              https://www.edresources.com.au

Edsoft                                                     www.edsoft.com.au

Fitzroy Programs                                        www.fitzprog.com.au/

Hawker Brownlow Education                         www.hbe.com.au/

Link Educational Supplies                             www.linkeducational.com.au

Wooldridges                                                  www.wooldridges.com.au

REFERENCES

Quellette, G. et. al., (2013). Guiding children's invented spelling: A gateway to literacy learning. Journal of Experimental Education. 81, 2, 261-279.

Bar-kochva K. et al., (2016). The relation between reading and spelling: An examination of subtypes of reading disability. Annals of Dyslexia. 66, 2, 219-284.

Quellette, G. et al., (2017). Learning from our mistakes: Improvements in spelling lead to gains in reading speed. Scientific Studies of Reading. 21,4, 350-357.

Zannikas, M.E. et al., (2018). A comparison of the taped spelling intervention and the Cover, Copy and Compare for students with learning disabilities. Journal of Behavioral Education. 27,3,301-323.

 

 

 

This resource has been prepared by Dr. Stewart C. Sykes - Psychologist. MAPS.
Former Associate Professor of Psychology and Special Education and Director of the Krongold Centre for Exceptional Children. Monash University, Australia.




Copyright © Dr. Stewart C. Sykes. All rights reserved.
 

Copyright Dr. Stewart Sykes