Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spelling--The Dreadful Ordeal (4)

The following is Chapter 15 from my book, Teaching English, How To…. (Xlibris, 2004).

Question: In the age of computers, is spelling still a worthwhile subject in the English curriculum?

Answer: A complete spelling program aims at building confidence in spelling and includes teaching students how to spell words predictably misspelled, how to solve specific spelling problems, how to visualize correct spelling and how to proofread for spelling.

A Complete Spelling Program for Grades 7 – 12
The trouble spot/association technique is a gimmick, of course, a gimmick that works. To be most useful, the technique needs to be part of a complete spelling program. Such a program consists of emphasis on (1) breaking down multi-syllable words; (2) studying words that are predictably misspelled;(3) learning spelling generalizations that work most of the time;(4) keeping lists of personal spelling demons; (5) providing instruction in proofreading; and (6) letting students take daily spelling tests that assure almost 100% success.

Selecting and Introducing the Words for Spelling Instruction
Usually I would put the ten words for the week on the board without explanation. The words were all related because of the same problem in their spelling. Students then decided on what the spelling problem was and tried to formulate a generalization. We would also try to decide the best method for remembering how to spell them.

For example, suppose I listed the following words on the board: “accessory,” “accidentally,” “accommodate,” “accompany,” “accrue,” “address,” “apparent,” attendance,” and “attorney.” Students would recognize that each word contains at least one double consonant. The best method for attacking this problem might be “over-pronunciation.”

These ten words would be the only words for the week, and the students would have a test on these teen words every day of the week. Since, as the reader will note in the columns below, I have in reserve 54 words with the same spelling problem, a different ten words, all representing the same spelling problem, would be used each week for the nest 5 or 6 weeks. I took my time to try to help students achieve mastery, not only of the words, but also of the spelling problem.

Next Blog: Words Frequently Misspelled.

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