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In search of the perfect approach to English spelling

Discussion in 'Primary' started by mystery10, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I live miles from a good bookshop or university library so I am trying to establish which books will help me from the comfort of my armchair.
    Being a lover of lists [​IMG], and already possessing two of Masha's books, I am in search of the holy grail.
    The kind of thing I am looking for would be of use in upper KS1 onwards into KS3 and maybe beyond. It would help a teacher, tutor, parent etc etc with spelling. And this is the sort of thing it would cover ........ pupil "sounds out" a word with the, for example, a /j/ sound somewhere within it. The pupil already knows from their thorough synthetics phonics training so far that the /j/ sound in English could be represented by g, dge, j, ge, or gg. But they don't know which one is right in this particular word.
    My holy grail spelling book would help with the likely patterns (e.g. which alternatives come in what positions in words / word stems, which ones come after short vowels etc etc - any patterns / rules that can be drawn rather than just lists of words under each spelling alternative) to narrow the choices down. It would also include a good long list of words following each pattern from which the teacher could pick words that are likely to be within the pupil's working vocabulary which they can focus on the spelling of.
    Someone kindly pointed me to "English Spellings - A Lexicon" by Dave Philpot, John Walker, and Susan Case. It is used with the Sounds Write Course as I understand it. This book partly does what I am searching for e.g. page 40 gives lists of words using each different spelling of the /j/ sound. But it does not have any explanation with the words lists e.g. it does not say that -dge always comes at the end of a word after a short vowel.
    Any further recommendations? I understand that the Hickey Multi-sensory language course might do what I am looking for.
     
  2. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I live miles from a good bookshop or university library so I am trying to establish which books will help me from the comfort of my armchair.
    Being a lover of lists [​IMG], and already possessing two of Masha's books, I am in search of the holy grail.
    The kind of thing I am looking for would be of use in upper KS1 onwards into KS3 and maybe beyond. It would help a teacher, tutor, parent etc etc with spelling. And this is the sort of thing it would cover ........ pupil "sounds out" a word with the, for example, a /j/ sound somewhere within it. The pupil already knows from their thorough synthetics phonics training so far that the /j/ sound in English could be represented by g, dge, j, ge, or gg. But they don't know which one is right in this particular word.
    My holy grail spelling book would help with the likely patterns (e.g. which alternatives come in what positions in words / word stems, which ones come after short vowels etc etc - any patterns / rules that can be drawn rather than just lists of words under each spelling alternative) to narrow the choices down. It would also include a good long list of words following each pattern from which the teacher could pick words that are likely to be within the pupil's working vocabulary which they can focus on the spelling of.
    Someone kindly pointed me to "English Spellings - A Lexicon" by Dave Philpot, John Walker, and Susan Case. It is used with the Sounds Write Course as I understand it. This book partly does what I am searching for e.g. page 40 gives lists of words using each different spelling of the /j/ sound. But it does not have any explanation with the words lists e.g. it does not say that -dge always comes at the end of a word after a short vowel.
    Any further recommendations? I understand that the Hickey Multi-sensory language course might do what I am looking for.
     
  3. If it is lists you want, why don't you try www.morewords.com
    Just type in the 'pattern' that you're focussing on with * as wildcards. It will give you lists to surpass your wildest dreams.

    [​IMG]

    There sometimes just aren't very many words using a particular grapheme, although the few words there are may be very common and useful to know how to spell.
     
  4. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Gosh yes I can create lists now to my heart's content without ever having to leave the keyboard!!
    I'd still like this combined with the patterns e.g. k generally comes before e and i, otherwise generally use a c at the beginning of a word etc etc.
    Also, I'd like to have an appropriate teaching sequence.
     
  5. In my last book I tried to explain for each spelling if it is the main one for a particular sound and if it has many exceptions, or if there are different spellings in different positions of words, before listing the exceptions.
    E.g. C on p. 12


    is the main spelling for the /k/ sound:


    1)
    before < a, o> and < u
    > (cat, cot, cut),


    2) at
    the end of longer words
    (music,
    fantastic) and
    3) before
    <l>
    and <r> (clip,
    crop), </font>


    but
    not in the words shown below ...



    </font><font face="Times New Roman">The most common spellings for
    the /k/ sound are <c> and <ck></font>


    (cat, cot, cut, brick), as shown under C and Ck on pages 12 and
    15.


    [/b](kept, kitten),


    2) after
    long vowels (seek, speak) and
    3) after
    consonants (milk, mink, mark), </font>


    but with the following exceptions...


    But I don't say what the best order for teaching the different spelling pattterns and the words which diverge from them is because, beyond basic phonics, I am not sure what it is. I imagined that the booklet would be useful for checking out or revising particular spellings as the need arose.
    I would have liked to put the contents of the book on my blog and get comments from teachers on it, to make it better and freely available, but I could not simply paste it in there, and without the tables which I have in the book it's not nearly as clear.

     
  6. Mystery, Your search for the perfect spelling course keeps plaguing my mind. I think it needs to be some kind of hybrid between L&S, my word list (as on blog and in the 2009 book) and 'Alpha to Omega'.
    I also think it should be a collaborative project worked on by a group of teachers and available to schools for free. Ideally it would be government-funded, but perhaps the Rowntree Trust would finance it?
    I think it's madness that schools have to choose between different phonics courses and pay for them. I am getting on a bit, but perhaps it's something u can take forward? Might be a bit late for your children, but perhaps u have my altruistic streak too?
    I found it painful to watch my children learn to read and write English, in comparison to the easy literacy start I had with Lithuanian and Russian and find it even sadder that my grandchildren are being put through the same mill too. Seeing how people react to me merely explaining what makes learning to read and write English exceptionally difficult, I know that millions more children will have to endure the same. The chances of learning to read and write English being made easier in the foreseeable future are slim (although I intend to keep working on making people cross about them).
    So I would be happy to contribute the knowledge which I have acquired about English spelling to any project aimed at improving the teaching of reading and writing. For as long as English spelling remains as rotten as it is, English literacy teaching needs to be as good as it possibly can be.
     
  7. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Please don't hold back with insulting my native language, will you?
     
  8. If we were to say something similar about Lithuanian we'd be in court for racist abuse.
     
  9. It sounds to me as if mystery wants every word in the English language listed according to......
    Well, according to what? A sound, a grapheme, a 'pattern' (such as 'ck' after a short vowel in a single syllable word, a suffix, a prefix etc. etc.? This is no-where near as simple as it appears.
    Is she actually expecting her child to learn to spell every single one of the 250,000 plus words in the English language. How many words a week do you think she'd be able to learn? 10, 20? Say 20; that's about 1,000 per year (allowing a bit of rest time). So, 250 years to learn them all...
    Goodness, I wonder how we all manged to do it in the old days, without the benefit of exhaustive lists?
    I can't see your collaborative 'proposal' being any better or worse than any of the good SP programmes which exist at present and which are completely successful at teaching reading and spelling all in one programme. Just look at the Sounds~Write data on spelling http://www.sounds-write.co.uk/docs/sounds_write_research_report_2009.pdf
    I keep giving you this link, masha. Have you ever actually followed it? Do you have any comment to make on the data?
    (disclaimer: I have no involvement whatsoever in the Sounds~Write programme)
     
  10. I find English spelling fascinating. The wealth of cultures and languages represented in the English language is fabulous and a real challenge to keep up with! All spellings have a reason and a pattern - if you can identify what it is.
    Definitely.
    Encourage children to look at English spelling as an intriguing adventure. They will make mistakes, whether it's thay for they or mixing up whether and weather. Just don't lose too much sleep over it: just try and get it right. It's all anyone can do.
    I had a child spell forensic as "phorensic". I put him right, of course, but I was impressed he had made a logical attempt using the patterns he knew and assumed were appropriate.
    BTW, try the "Times Spelling Bee" online game sometime. It's good fun and the hardest level is tough even for teachers!
     
  11. Reading another thread I was reminded that in 2000 when Blunket was Sec of Ed
    he wanted to raise spelling standards and got teachers from different subject areas to help him compile lists of the words they thought all Y7's should know or learn how to spell. They were called 'Blunkett's 600' at the time. They are predominantly words that pupils had trouble spelling. I think that for most of them it is easy to see why.
    The first list is a general spelling list. The rest are grouped for:
    Common homophones and confusions | Science | Maths | History | Geography |
    RE | Music | Drama | PSHE | PE | Art | D&T | ICT | Library | English
    General spelling list
    accommodation actually alcohol although analyse/analysis argument assessment
    atmosphere audible audience autumn beautiful beginning believe beneath
    buried business caught chocolate climb column concentration conclusion
    conscience conscious consequence continuous creation daughter
    decide/decision definite design development diamond diary disappear
    disappoint embarrass energy engagement enquire environment evaluation
    evidence explanation February fierce forty fulfil furthermore guard happened
    health height imaginary improvise industrial interesting interrupt issue
    jealous knowledge listening lonely lovely marriage material meanwhile
    miscellaneous mischief modern moreover murmur necessary nervous original
    outrageous parallel participation pattern peaceful people performance
    permanent persuade/persuasion physical possession potential preparation
    prioritise process proportion proposition questionnaire queue reaction
    receive reference relief remember research resources safety Saturday
    secondary separate sequence shoulder sincerely skilful soldier stomach
    straight strategy strength success surely surprise survey technique
    technology texture tomorrow unfortunately Wednesday weight weird women
    Common homophones and confusions
    advise/advice a lot of affect/effect allowed/aloud braking/breaking
    bought/brought choose/chose cloth/clothe conscience/conscious course/coarse
    our/are practise/practice quiet/quite sites/sights source/sauce thank you
    threw/through to/too/two
    Science
    absorb acid alkaline amphibian apparatus chemical circulate/circulation
    combustion condensation cycle digest/digestion disperse/dispersal dissolve
    distil/distillation element evaporation exchange freeze frequency friction
    function growth hazard insect laboratory liquid mammal method nutrient
    organism oxygen particles predator reproduce respire/respiration solution
    temperature thermometer vertebrate vessel
    Maths
    addition angle amount approximately average axis calculate centimetre
    circumference co-ordinate decimal degree diameter digit divide/division
    enough equilateral estimate fraction graph guess horizontal isosceles
    kilogram litre measure metre minus multiply/multiplication
    parallel/parallelogram negative perimeter perpendicular positive
    quadrilateral radius regular rhombus rotate/rotation square subtraction
    symmetry/symmetrical triangle/triangular vertical volume weight
    History
    agriculture/agricultural bias castle cathedral Catholic
    chronology/chronological citizen civilisation colony/colonisation conflict
    constitution/constitutional contradict/contradiction current defence disease
    document dynasty economy/economic/al emigration government immigrant
    imperial/imperialism independence invasion motive parliament
    politics/political priest propaganda Protestant rebel/rebellion reign
    religious republic revolt/revolution siege source trade traitor
    Geography
    abroad amenity atlas authority climate contour country county desert
    employment erosion estuary function globe habitat infrastructure
    international landscape latitude location longitude nation/national physical
    pollution poverty provision region/regional rural settlement situation
    tourist/tourism transport/transportation urban wealth weather
    RE
    baptism Bible/biblical Buddhist/Buddhism burial celebrate/celebration
    ceremony Christian commandment commitment creation disciple faith festival
    funeral Hindu/Hinduism hymn immoral/immorality Islam Israel Judaism/Jewish
    marriage miracle moral/morality Muslim parable pilgrim/pilgrimage
    pray/prayer prejudice prophet religious/religion shrine sign Sikh/Sikhism
    special spirit/spiritual symbol synagogue temple wedding worship
    Music
    choir chord chromatic composition/conductor crotchet dynamics harmony
    instrument/instrumental interval lyric major melody minim minor musician
    octave orchestra/orchestral ostinato percussion pitch quaver rhythm scale
    score semibreve synchronise syncopation tempo ternary timbre triad vocal
    Drama
    applause character/characteristics costume curtain director dramatise
    entrance exit freeze improvise inspire lighting movement perform/performance
    playwright position rehearse/rehearsal role scene/scenario script share
    spotlight stage theatre/theatrical
    PSHE
    able/ability achieve/achievement addict/addiction approve/approval
    communication control dependant/dependency discipline discussion effort
    emotion/emotional encourage/encouragement gender generous/generosity
    involve/involvement prefer/preference pressure racism/racist reality
    relationship represent/representative reward sanction sexism/sexist
    stereotype
    PE
    active/activity agile/agility athletic/athlete bicep exercise field
    gym/gymnastic hamstring injury league medicine mobile/mobility muscle
    personal pitch quadriceps qualify relay squad tactic tournament triceps
    Art
    abstract acrylic charcoal collage collection colour crosshatch dimension
    display easel exhibition foreground frieze gallery highlight illusion
    impasto kiln landscape palette pastel perspective portrait sketch spectrum
    D&T
    aesthetic brief carbohydrate component design diet disassemble evaluation
    fabric fibre flour flowchart hygiene ingredient innovation knife/knives
    linen machine manufacture mineral natural nutrition polyester portfolio
    presentation production protein recipe sew specification technology tension
    textile vitamin
    ICT
    binary byte cable cartridge CD-Rom computer connect/connection cursor
    data/database delete disk document electronic graphic hardware icon input
    interactive interface Internet justify keyboard megabyte memory modem module
    monitor multimedia network output password preview processor program scanner
    sensor server software spreadsheet virus
    Library
    Alphabet/alphabetical anthology article author catalogue classification
    content copyright dictionary editor encyclopaedia extract fantasy genre
    glossary index irrelevant/irrelevance librarian magazine non-fiction novel
    photocopy publisher relevant/relevance romance section series system
    thesaurus
    English
    advertise/advertisement alliteration apostrophe atmosphere chorus clause
    cliche comma comparison conjunction consonant dialogue exclamation
    expression figurative genre grammar imagery metaphor myth narrative/narrator
    onomatopoeia pamphlet paragraph personification playwright plural prefix
    preposition resolution rhyme scene simile soliloquy subordinate suffix
    synonym tabloid vocabulary vowel
     
  12. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I've found a book which might be good. Does anyone have any experience of it? It's called Teaching English Spelling by Ruth Shemesh and Sheila Waller. It's in the series Cambridge Handooks for Language Teachers. It's aimed at a wide variety of students (both age group wise and English as a first language or a foreign language) so is designed to be highly adaptable. I think Ruth Shemesh was trained in the Hickey Method so presumably it has a sound synthetic phonics basis to it.
    It doesn't cover everything, but covers what the authors consider to be important. It includes suggested lesson plans and activities.

    The structure of the book is as follows:
    Chap 1 - vowel sounds - short and long
    Chap 2 - the sound /k/ c or k, -ck or -k at the end of a word, -ic, qu, -x
    Chap 3 single vowel followers -ll, -ss, -ff, -zz, -dge, -tch
    Chap 4 the sound /i/ i-e, -y, -igh
    Chap 5 the sound /ay/ a-e, -ay, ai
    Chap 6 the sound /oa/ o-e, -ow, oa
    Chap 7 the sound/oo/ u-e, -ue, -ew, oo
    Chap 8 the sound /ee/ ee, ea, -y, ie and ei
    chap 9 soft and hard sounds - soft c and the soft and hard g
    chap 10 odds and ends including -tion and -sion, -le, -al, and -el
     
  13. Judging by the lack of response, the book does not seem much used.
     

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