Spelling and Writing

Spelling and written language are integral to learning to read. These articles explore the importance of encoding and decoding as reciprocal processes.

Training in developing spelling and written language

 

Spelling and Writing

Meet the Experts: Dr Louisa Moats (2008) Reading Rockets

Three clips where Louisa Moats concisely outlines the importance of spelling, ‘nonsense’ words and fluency for diagnosis of reading difficulty.

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How Words Cast Their Spell – Spelling is an Integral Part of Learning the Language, Not a Matter of Memorization (Joshi R M, Treiman R, Carreker S and Moats L C 2008-2009): American Educator

‘Spelling instruction underpins reading success by creating an awareness of the sounds that make up words and the letters that spell those sounds. As children learn to spell, their knowledge of words improves and reading becomes easier.’

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Spelling reformers get wrong end of stick shocker (Linguist Laura 2014)

This astute and witty piece in response to the demand for simplified spelling exposes a number of common myths and fallacies about English orthography and also shows why such attempts are probably doomed to fail.

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How Spelling Supports Reading and Why It Is More Regular and Predictable Than You May Think (Moats, L C 2005): American Educator

Louisa Moats explains how spelling can and should be approached systematically in order to improve reading and wider language skills: “Learning to spell requires instruction and gradual integration of information about print, speech sounds, and meaning — these, in turn, support memory for whole words, which is used in both spelling and sight reading. “

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Reading Instruction Across Countries - English is hard (Willingham, D 2012)
Daniel Willingham points out findings that indicate higher errors amongst early readers tend to occur in countries where the language has a deeper (ie more complex) orthography. He goes on to argue that this should not necessarily result in a greater allocation of time to language study, but that we should accept slower progress in order to encourage interest in other areas such as science, history and mathematics.

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Why the Chair of the English Spelling Society doesn't understand the English orthographic code (Walker, J 2014) The Literacy Blog

John Walker counters calls for spelling reform by maintaining that the English orthographic code, while complex, can be learned if taught correctly.

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Feel Like A Spell? (Hempenstall, K 2013)

These workshop notes are an excellent summary of issues around learning to spell, why it is important and how we should teach it. There is also an excellent poem about spelling "chequers”.  

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Literacy assessment based upon the National Reading Panel’s Big Five components (Hempenstall, K 2009 updated): Association for Direct Instruction

Identifies the links between spelling and written language, and reading. Dr Hempenstall cites research that shows that the development of these skills is linked, and argues that this link should be systematically exploited to the student’s advantage.

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Teaching Literacy Using a Multiple-Linguistic Word-Study Spelling Approach: A Systematic Review (Wolter, J undated): EBP Briefs
This paper provides a literature review of multiple linguistic approaches to word study and finds links with improved decoding, spelling and writing. Multiple linguistic approaches include a range of skills such as phonological awareness, phonemic awareness and morphology. The links between the structures of language, understanding the written code, and being able to produce language using the written code suggest strong evidence for the reciprocal relationship between reading and linguistic skills.

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The Structure of English Orthography: Letters, Sounds, Spellings and Meanings
(Venezky, R): Children of the Code

This informative Children of the Code interview with Dr Richard Venezky (regarded as a leading authority on English orthography) details his journey from computer science into the science of reading and some of the important discoveries that he made about the relationships between letters and sounds in English.

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Michael Zwaagstra: Too many educators believe that handwriting is obsolete. Nonsense. (Zwaagstra, M 2015): National Post
This short but lucid article outlines why handwriting is still an essential skills for entrenching good reading skills. The author argues that as well as assisting with the learning of letter shapes and sounds, developing handwriting to fluency also improves both the quality and quantity that students can produce.

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The write way to spell: printing vs typing effects on orthographic learning. (Ouellette, G and Tims, T 2014): Frontiers in Psychology
The authors investigated the links between typing and spelling versus handwriting and spelling. They found that handwriting seemed to be more effective in remembering the orthographic representations of spelling, while learning through typing was constrained by the student’s current level of keyboard fluency. The results suggest that there is an important place for handwriting in schools.

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Why handwriting is good for brain development. (James, K 2015): The Forum - BBC World Service
This fascinating interview discusses the evidence for handwritten encoding having a positive effect on spelling and reading.

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The effects of handwriting experience on functional brain development in pre-literate children (James K H and Engelhardt L 2012): National Institute of Health Public Access
This is the study on which the interview above is based. In an experiment with pre-literate children, the authors found that handwriting activated areas of the brain associated with acquiring reading skills. Findings point to a continued role for handwritten language to facilitate learning to read. 

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Training in developing spelling and written language