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Phonics and spelling

(53 Posts)
PiggeryJokery Fri 26-Oct-12 18:05:41

Just interested how phonics works with spelling. Sounding out when you look at a word works well, but ds struggles when writing as he's just putting down whatever sound he hears, so for "might" he wrote "mite" which is understandable as both versions use an "ie" sound. How do they learn the right spellings?

Also I was surprised that he could sight read "beautiful" but was totally unable to spell it - he tried "beeyootiful" - and he was really taken aback when I spelt it for him, as he was obviously thinking about the sounds and not how it looked when he last read it.

Fuzzymum1 Fri 26-Oct-12 20:15:54

I don't know how old he is but my son is in year one. He does very similar things - his teacher has told us to accept "phonically plausible spellings" so as long as the right sounds are there and you can decode what they mean then they accept it. Gradually as they read more and learn more they get better at deciding which spelling is right. It is completely normal for a child to be able to read words they can't spell. As long as he can hear the sounds and use them as building blocks to make words (which he obviously can) then AFAIK it's nothing to worry about.

mrz Fri 26-Oct-12 20:21:35

Knowing which spelling is correct is often down to familiarity, we know the sounds so can build the word and often recognise when a familiar word looks wrong, so it is important that the child doesn't see the incorrect spelling too often.

derekthehamster Fri 26-Oct-12 20:25:23

I agree Mrz, my son is in yr 5 and not a good speller! When doing apples and pears, he still sometimes slips up and spells when as wen. Also come and some are still sometimes spelt sum and cum. All due, I suspect, to having spelt phonetically for the last 5 years.

mrz Fri 26-Oct-12 20:28:54

Praise the phonetically plausible attempt but say in this word the "ie" sound is spelt <igh> and get him to change it then praise some more

PiggeryJokery Fri 26-Oct-12 20:34:17

He's yr1. Thanks for the advice, very helpful.

Mashabell Sat 27-Oct-12 08:02:38

Phonics is of very limited use for learning to spell English, because at least 3700 common words have some unpredictable letters in them (speak, seek, shriek, shoe, flew, through). - That's why learning to spell English 'correctly' takes at least 10 years, with roughly 1 in 2 pupils still having serious difficulties with spelling by then end of secondary school.

Learning to spell English is mainly a matter of what looks right, but the physical act of writing or typing the correct version repeatedly helps greatly with this. That's why the old method of 'look, say, cover, write, check' remains the main way of learning to spell English.

People with good visual memories (roughly 1 in 5), and u may well be one of them, manage to imprint the right look of words mainly through reading. They don't have to work at their spelling. The majority have to slog away at it.

With young children it's important not to overdo the correcting of logical spellings like 'mite, cood, frend, sed, wood', because it can put them off writing. And if they don't write, they won't learn to spell.

Getting the balance right can be tricky. Most children want to learn to spell 'correctly' before long. Greater awareness of what makes this difficult can help. The worst thing anyone can do is pretend that English spelling is phonically regular. For weak spellers, it's much better to blame their difficulties on the stupidity of English spelling, to stop them feeling really bad about their difficulties.
Masha Bell

mrz Sat 27-Oct-12 08:08:28


WofflingOn Sat 27-Oct-12 08:08:58


Feenie Sat 27-Oct-12 08:09:45


WofflingOn Sat 27-Oct-12 08:09:57

Enjoying half term already, mrz?

mrz Sat 27-Oct-12 08:10:21

Is it Halloween already?

WofflingOn Sat 27-Oct-12 08:12:32

Well, I think Halloween lasts from just after harvest until Bonfire night, so yes.
One day Gove and Masha will meet and a terrible new dawn will break upon the world.

Feenie Sat 27-Oct-12 08:15:12



scarevola Sat 27-Oct-12 08:15:25

Masha: your point is utterly wrong. There are about 44 sounds in English, and some of these have more than one grapheme. Some graphemes have more than one sound.

None of those you list are impossible to render phonemically, nor is it impossible to use the phonics to decode the graphemes within them.

Yes, children have to learn, when spelling, which grapheme/phoneme correspondence to use. Yes, this may take time.

But yes, it's all based on how the words sound (ie their meaningful phonemes and how they are represented by letters). A child who does not know the phonic code and who is truly learning by sight - say one learning a non-alphabetic language such as Chinese - has to learn every single word-pictograms individually, and this means years of rote learning and also life-long learning of every novel word from scratch. And, like all non-phonic sight learners, could be completely stumped by a character they had not encountered before (might guess meaning, like "fill in the gap", but could not say it).

VintageRainBoots Sat 27-Oct-12 08:16:51

I encourage my daughter to try and "sound out" words, both with reading and writing, but I make sure to emphasize that phonics can only help you come up with "guesses." For most English words, there are no real rules and you just have to remember how they're spelled.

mrz Sat 27-Oct-12 08:22:45

I'm adding garlic to my shopping list!

mrz Sat 27-Oct-12 08:23:36

and stake

LindyHemming Sat 27-Oct-12 08:24:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

VintageRainBoots Sat 27-Oct-12 08:24:47

scarevola, I think knowing the origins of words helps one figure out how to spell them properly (e.g., a word of Greek origin would be more likely to be spelled with a "ph" rather than an "f"), but my five year old is still a little too young to keep track of all those details. Perhaps next year. wink

Rote memorization is full-proof, which is why I recommend it myself.

Phonics confused the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid. Of course, I was reading by the time I was three, so phonics was introduced to me a few years too late.

LindyHemming Sat 27-Oct-12 08:25:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

justbogoffnow Sat 27-Oct-12 08:26:30

Jolly phonics

mrz Sat 27-Oct-12 08:28:41

...silver bullets
my shopping list is getting longer hmm

scarevola Sat 27-Oct-12 08:30:08

If you know the choice is between "ph" and "f" then you are using phonics

(If someone thinks "phonics" is a neologism, limited to a particular set of course books, then they have been badly misinformed).

scarevola Sat 27-Oct-12 08:30:56

mrz: our garden centre has scythes. Any good?

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