How do children learn to spell words?
There are two ways to spell words.
Remember the word as a sight word
Some students try to remember how the word looks when learning spelling words. This can work well for students with a good visual memory.
This strategy is also useful for remembering homophones (for example, which and witch) and irregular words (words that are difficult to ‘sound out’, such as sure and choir). However, this strategy is difficult to use for long, complex words, and it doesn’t help students spell unfamiliar words.
‘Sound out’ the word
Most English words can be sounded out if the student knows:
how to break the word into syllables and sounds
how letters and sounds are related
how to apply spelling rules
Efficient spellers are able to use both strategies effectively.
Many students who struggle with spelling have difficulties with phonological awareness skills such as:
identifying rhyming words
perceiving the difference between similar sounds (for example m and n)
- identifying the first sound in a word
- remembering the sequence of sounds in a word
breaking words into syllables
This means that they have difficulties 'sounding out' spelling words.