In today’s high tech world it’s easy to ask yourself why spelling is important.
You may think you don’t need to know how to spell since you can look up words at the touch of button.
However, as you’ll see, spelling is a reflection of literacy.
It is how we express our written language.
Every culture has its language and transcribing that language is a major milestone in the evolution and advancement of that culture.
For example, think about the English language.
We have all seen quotes from Shakespeare or Chaucer written in ‘old English. Often the spelling is very hard to decipher.
Ultimately, language and spelling evolve over time.
Written language is how you express yourself in print which is another reason why spelling is important.
Students use spelling to complete assignments, write essays, send texts, and get important things such as fund-raising notices out to the community.
Later on, as you apply to college and head into the work world, good spelling makes you hireable, and according to recruiters, it matters so much that employers will move you closer to the head of the line when your writing reveals you certainly know the difference between their and there or hear and here.
After all, your writing is your first impression to a potential employer and if your best is to show a laissez-faire attitude in what you submit, with poor spelling or grammar, you’ve doomed your chances of success.
Once you are on the job, written communication is considered one of the most important aspects in most workplaces, especially in emails and texting.
When you write, text and review others’ work, spelling is suddenly very important.
How Do You First Learn to Spell?
Is the English language a phonetic language? Many people will say it isn’t.
They will give examples such as the word yacht and how you can’t use phonics to spell it.
That is true, but as it turns out, approximately 84% of the words in the English language are phonetically spelled.
That means that phonics is just as important in learning to spell as it is in learning to read.
What is Spelling?
So, what is spelling?
Interestingly, spelling is the reverse of reading.
Reading is decoding and spelling is encoding.
Phonemic patterns in English help students identify words in both reading and spelling.
We take sounds and convert them into printed words based on our phonological awareness and understanding of word patterns.
When we teach kids to spell we start with letter – sound correspondence.
That means knowing the sounds of the letters and what they look like and then we move to helping them recognize patterns in words and syllables.
Instead of worrying about the exceptions, let’s start with word patterns.
Of course kids have to learn to spell the irregular words too, but that comes later in our discussion of spelling.
Why Phonetic Reading Programs Foster Great Spellers
When kids use excellent phonetic reading programs, there are built in components designed specifically to help them learn to read quickly and master grammar and spelling at the same time.
For example, in the award-winning phonics based reading program I founded called SuperBooks, you can quickly see how spelling is incorporated with learning to read.
Children start out reading words with simple pattern words that end with phonograms: an, and, um, up, ad, make words such as: ran, man, Dan, fan, pan, and, sand, hand, etc.
Using phonics patterns helps children automatically know how to read and how to spell hundreds of related words that match the same patterns.
You can easily see how literacy skills such as reading, spelling and writing, are all interrelated and one skill reinforces another.
Reading reinforces spelling, spelling reinforces reading, and writing reinforces both.
So why not have an enjoyable time for both teacher and learner by using vocabulary from the SuperBooks reading program for spelling?
It’s a proven fact that children naturally choose to be engaged in activities where they feel successful.
Superbooks is designed to do just that by providing a list of spelling words in the inside back cover of each book.
Kids transition seamlessly by learning to spell the very words they are learning to read.
Because they are already more familiar with the words since they are part of the story, a solid phonics program teaches children to also spell the words in the readers.
Rhyming Words Also Teach Spelling
In addition to using the vocabulary from the books children are reading, you create lists for spelling of words that rhyme, such as damp, stamp, ramp; hop, pop, stop, run, fun, sun, and words with other patterns such as word endings such as ed, er, ing.
Dictation can also be used as an activity with each book.
After dictation children may illustrate the words and sentences, write a new ending for the story or write a new story using the same words and sentences.
High Frequency Words That Aren’t Phonetically Spelled is Another Reason Why Spelling is Important!
Children also need to learn to spell high frequency words that do not conform to phonological patterns.
This requires good old fashioned spelling work and visual memory.
These includes words such as are, there, this and the.
In order to teach spelling using phonic, specific word knowledge is also needed.
The Science of Reading book advocates that all reading programs should provide explicit instruction in phonics, spelling and handwriting.
To quote from Psychology Today, “Research supports reading programs, that have a strong spelling component.
Educators who stopped using spelling books fail to notice that teaching spelling as sound to symbol associations includes all the elements represented in the Word Level strands starting with sound, the alphabetic principle, syllables, morphology (meaningful word parts including Greek & Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes), vocabulary and word meaning.
Spelling can be a complicated process of memorizing lists of words which tells you why phonics is the best strategy to teach reading as well as spelling.
And with high frequency irregularly spelled words there has to be visualization, repetition and some memorization.
According to Gentry and Oulette, 2019, structured literacy is systematic and explicit instruction that leads beginners to 300-400 “brain words” that they can automatically read and spell by the end of first grade.
A combination of both irregularly spelled words and phonetically based words.
So, now you know why spelling is important and a bit of how to teach it using phonics.
Think of Noah Webster and the development of the first English Dictionary. What a task! What if we didn’t have an agreed upon source of word spellings?
When you think about it–spelling is not only important it is absolutely necessary.
JoAnne Nelson is the author of award-winning SuperBooks and a foremost expert in using phonics to help kids read in under two weeks.
She has written more than 150 inspiring books for sequential phonics readers that both teachers and parents love because the lesson plans are done for you and kids successfully read very quickly!
Visit SuperBooks.net to view SuperBooks Kits and Story Packs for use at home or in classroom.
SuperBooks are the original phonics-based “little books” program that has been successfully teaching children to read for over 40 years!
Reference: Gentry, J.R, & Oulette, G.P. (2019) Brain Words: Portsmouth, N.H.: Stenhouse Publishers