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Strategies for spelling?
• What strategies do you use to spell
• Do these strategies work
- sometimes
- all the time
- never?
• What do you think you can do to be
be a better speller?
Best Practice in Spelling
Methodologies which
effectively help us to be
accurate spellers :
Phonemic spelling
‘Whole Word’ approach
Morphemic spelling
Spelling should be explicitly
taught because:
• The English language DOES conform
to predictable patterns
• These patterns can be learnt
Collins, 1983
Dixon, 1991
Graham, 1999
Dixon and Engelmann, 2002
1. Phonemic Spelling
• Understanding the
relationship between letters
and their corresponding
sounds is an important skill
for successful reading and
spelling performance.
• We have less difficulty spelling
words that are based on
predictable letter-sound
• About 87% of our language has
predictable letter-sound patterns
• the word hat has three sounds:
/h/, /a/, and /t/
• It can be correctly spelled using the
three letters
(h, a, and t)
that correspond with each of those
The Dyslexic Speller
• The area of the brain that is used to
connect the sounds to letters is
normally a weak area in people with
The Dyslexic Speller
The brain can be rewired to work with
these sounds (even in adults).
Rewiring is achieved with • Systematic phonics instruction
boosts the spelling skills
(National Reading Panel, UK, 2000)
• practice (research shows to form a
neural pathway a word, sound,
pattern must be reviewed over 20
2. Whole Word Approach
Not all words in the English language
can be spelled correctly using lettersound correspondence.
About 13% of words do not follow the
letter- sound patterns
Irregularly spelled words
• Examples of irregular words include
the words yacht, straight, and friend
• These words cannot be spelled
correctly by applying a regular
phonics approach.
• To learn irregularly spelled words,
different strategies are required.
• Whole Word approach works
well with words which do not
conform to a regular spelling
• Memorisation is not the most
efficient strategy for spelling
• In a typical ‘Whole Word’
program, groupings of words are
based on some similarity
–Similar sound patterns sounds like
th- or –and words
–Word lists for a particular topic eg
work related words, course words.
Strategy for learning whole word spelling
- the Look-say-cover-write method.
• First, a student looks at a word.
• Then, while touching each letter of the
word, the student spells the word.
• Next, the student covers the word so it is
no longer visible.
• The word is then written on a separate
piece of paper.
• Finally, the student uncovers the correctly
spelled word and checks to see if he or
she has copied it down correctly.
• The English language
contains words with both
regular and irregular
• Both the phonemic and
whole-word approaches are
required to teach regularly or
irregularly spelled words.
3. Morphemic Approach
• A morphograph is the smallest
unit of identifiable meaning in
written English.
• Morphographs include prefixes,
suffixes, and bases or roots.
• Recognising different morphographs
can help to create many words in the
written English language.
• For example, the word recovered is
made up of the prefix re, the base
cover, and the suffix ed.
• Learn the basic rules applied
when adding a suffix to the end
of a word.
• Eg try – tried
stop – stopped
wave - waved
• Morphographs are generally
spelled the same across different
• For example, the morphograph
port is spelled the same in the
words porter, deport, and
• When the spelling of a morphograph
changes across words, it does so in
predictable ways.
• The morphograph trace is spelled
differently in the words trace and
tracing, but the change is governed
by the rule for dropping the final e.
• The number of morphographs is far
fewer than the number of words in
the written English language
• the number of principles for
combining morphographs is relatively
Learning to spell morphographs
and the rules for combining
morphographs will allow
students to spell a far larger set
of words accurately than by
learning individual words through
rote memorisation of spelling
• In summary, phonemic, whole-word,
and morphemic approaches are
useful for teaching the wide variety
of word types in the English
• Together these approaches
represent a comprehensive set of
strategies for learning how to be an
accurate speller.
Common words,
Difficult words,
Root words
Spelling rules