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Discussion in 'Primary' started by sandyjohn, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. When you get children to spell out words do you get them to use the
    letter names or the sounds? If you use sounds at what age
    would you start to use letter names?
  2. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    not age but stage!
    I would want the child to be fully secure with their letter sounds and spelling all high frequency words for Y3/4 before I would start using letter names.
    I still 'sound out' words for my year 5's having had a foundation stage base to my career.
  3. dagnabit

    dagnabit New commenter

    In phonics my more able year 1s use letter names to spell a word then tell me the phonemes, and in Year 2 most of them should be. IMO.
  4. thepinkrachael

    thepinkrachael New commenter

    I'm in year 1 and it's nearly always the sounds, but it depends on the child and on our activity. We do a spelling test each week (not through choice!) and we mark it together as a class, the children usually use the sounds which I repeat and then model the names as well.
    Some children spell (for example during shared writing) using the names and when they do, I record as they say the letter names but then repeat and read back using sounds as well, but the majority use sounds to spell out the word anyway.
    We often play games like I spy though and for this they are encouraged to use the letter names to help get them used to what they are to be able to use them later on.
  5. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I would think that by the end of year 2 most children should know the letter names. However when spelling it makes more sense to sound out using sounds, including digraphs etc.

    but a mix of the two for everyday use is fine throughout primary school. My year 6 still use sounds to spell out words sometimes, but all do know their letter names and use those more often. Either is fine with me.
  6. Sorry greta444 of course I meant 'stage' but also wondering when do you then stop using phonemes? As an adult I still use my phonic knowldege to spell unfamiliar words but if someone asked me to spell a word I knew I would use the letter names.
  7. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    no probs, Actually after working for years in foundation stage, I find it really hard to spell out a word using the letter names, hence the 'sounding out' in year 5!! I would encourage using both phonemes and letter names as early as the child was ready, but I would have to be very confident that the child had a good knowledge of common spelling patterns. I still say about Y3/4.
  8. Children should be simultaneously learning both from EYFS
    They should learn to spell even the simplest phonemes using letter names
    e.g. the phoneme /i/ is spelt i
    the phoneme /t/ is spelt t
    building up
    phoneme /ou/ is spelt ou, oo, ow etc

  9. I'm intrigued as to how you would sound out digraphs! How would you sound out, for instance, 'stair' or 'stare'? Or do you mean you would sound out /s/ and /t/, then give the trigraph /are/ or /air/. The pupils, of course, would have to have prior knowledge of the trigraphs as it gets a bit cumbersome.
  10. Using 'phonics' is the most common method of even adult proficient spellers. Take, for example, a multi-syllable or longer word, or more unusual word that we want to spell. The likelihood is that we break words into syllable chunks and spell the word with sounds as we write.
    The thing is, I think too many teachers are not fully aware of these very 'adult' processes and associate spelling with letter names because it is the convention to tell people a spelling by letter names.
    So, it is a convention, rather than a private technique of spelling.
    I think that many children are capable by Year 2 to use the letter names convention to tell one another spellings - but I suggest that, as teachers, we should be making it very explicit that phonics 'break-down of words' is what we do, as adults!
    If we stick to the convention of saying letter names only, then we really mislead the children as to what adult spelling is like.
    Phonics is very much the domain of proficient readers and writers but, sadly, it is often thought of as just the way to teach infants.

  11. Debbie how do you suggest we teach spelling and reading then if not through phonics?

  12. Phonics is the best way to start teaching children to read and write.
    It is most definitely not the domain of proficient readers and writers.

    What makes me stop and think now is mainly just consonant doubling
    with which phonics does not help at all (banish banner)
    and unstressed vowels in words like 'definite' or 'separate'.
    (For 'separate' I am helped by its German pronunciation 'separat'.
    And I know that 'definite' is the only word that does not follow the 'delicate, chocolate, profligate..' pattern, but it still makes me hesitate, as if each time a signal goes off in my brain saying, '''Watch that one!".)
    Even for learning to read, phonics is often of limited use (although through, treat great threat),
    for spelling, it merely scratches the surface. The main work in learning to spell English consists of learning which words disobey the main English spelling patterns
    Once children can read pretty well and the emphasis shifts more to learning to spell, using letter names becomes less cumbersome than their sounds.

  13. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    As a parent my view is there seems to be a point where using the sounds to spell a word is a little bit silly and becomes redundant. One then has to ask the child "how do you spell that fffff sound" for example, and then when they say /p/ /h/ instead of pee aitch it's even sillier as that is using sounds as the names of letters - completely wrong.
    I think that spelling beyond a certain point using the sounds is counter-productive. I think schemes like RWI probably get it about right in saying that you should start to spell using letter names once you have learned all the speed sounds that particular scheme covers.
    Debbie when you describe spelling strategies that adults use I'm not sure that they are strategies that the "best" adult spellers use. My guess is that the strongest spellers - people who can spell the thousands of English words that a well-educated arts graduate for example might need to spell without hesitation - do so without recourse to fff sounds for ph etc etc.
    Try spelling a complicated word backwards - I do it by "reading" the word backwards out of my visual memory. If I had been kept in the land of the sounds for too long I don't think I would be able to do this. I don't remember the stage of wondering whether foto or photo was correct .... I just always remember thinking that things did not look right if the spellings were wrong - they looked strange, or odd, or childish. I relate words to other words so because I know what aural and oral mean for example, this helps me automatically spell related words with au in them. But I don't think I would ever have had to search around in my ear and mind to work out whether ordit or audit is correct.
    I do think we need to be looking at people's spelling beyond year 6 to see if particular approaches to spelling work or not. People develop their spelling in England over a long period of time and year 6 is not the end of the story. Does any of the phonics research currently go beyond year 6 in looking at whether or not it provides a good long term approach to English spelling? What I am thinking is that just because a certain way of teaching spelling at primary level might be shown by a study to improve spelling up to year 6, it needs to go beyond this to study the effect. Children's vocabulary and spelling is still expanding massively probably right up into the early twenties so the foundations and ways of thinking that primary school spelling sets in train could have either a positive or negative lifelong effect.
    Greta, you mentioned high frequency word lists for years 3 and 4, where would I find these please?
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We use the phonemes to segment the word for spelling and then letter names to indicate the grapheme we will write (phonics only in reception & Y1 but we continue to use phonics even in Y6)
    I do think many adults are in a hurry to drop phonics and only use letter names before children are secure in segmenting words. Phonics isn't "babish" and letter names aren't "grown up".
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Can I ask how do you work out how to spell a word you have never seen written down?
  16. I travel up and down the country providing professional development events for phonics.
    The attendees range from teaching assistants to advisors, and range from carers of three to four year olds to secondary teachers - sometimes lecturers of adults and student teachers).
    I give them an unknown multisyllable word to spell. These attendees work out the processes they go through to 'spell' that word and almost 100% of them describe that they chunk the word according to its syllable chunks - in other words as 'sounds' at chunk level which is a form of phonics.
    Some of them miss the point and start to relay their 'spelling' in letter names and I ask, "Is that what you DID?" - and they then realise that they think and spell using phonics.
    mashabell describes very partical phonics teaching in her postings. She does not seem to understand how to teach an extended alphabetic code.

  17. "partical" - try 'partial'!
    As always, written in haste.
    A whole word learner may not have noticed the difference of this spelling when reading the word in context of the whole sentence.
    One of my daughters described to me at age 17 that she could not discern the jumbled-up middle letters of the fake 'Cambridge research'.
    I suggest that we are largely unaware of the muddle many of our students and former students are in when it comes to wider reading and spelling.
  18. I DO advocate teaching spelling through phonics - and maintaining the teaching and supporting of spelling through a phonics process.
    Ultimately, people accumulate a spelling word bank of how words are spelled - but often teachers don't fully appreciate that so many of their pupils will not read widely enough, nor have the capability and knowledge to appreciate that they have to note which words are spelled in which way - so as teachers we need to teach spelling word banks specifically and really raise their awareness of this spelling organisation.
    Being able to write well and spell well is a life chance thing - and whilst mashabell and others would like to aim for spelling reform, we can actually teach spelling much better than we tend to as a teaching profession.
    The thing is, I have only encountered one person in all these years who says she had teacher-training in how to teach spelling - and I've yet to meet any teacher who has been trained in how to mark for spelling.
    I do know of people, including my own experience, who have been trained in formative assessment and marking for the main learning intention - to the total neglect of spelling - which should arguably be under constant support and scrutiny.
  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I do mark spellings if a child has spelt a word correctly in the piece and then continues to mis spell the same word at another point (in the same work).
    I have been working with someone who delivers phonics training on both the PGCE and SCITT courses for a major university and she pointed out that she gets one day on the SCITT and half a day on the PGCE to teacher prospective teachers everything they need to know to teach children to read and write.
  20. Which illustrates the gross underestimation of the need to train teachers in the alphabetic code and the skills of blending, segmenting and handwriting.


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