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If schools are beginning to stop sending home spellings to learn, how do children learn to spell?

(73 Posts)
Ruprekt Sat 09-Mar-13 22:33:04

I know the thought is that children learn for the test but then do not use that knowledge in literacy.

Lots of primary schools have stopped sending spellings home so there begs the question, how do they learn to spell?

Ds2 is 8 and a Very able speller......just wondering what to do to keep that going.

MTSgroupie Mon 11-Mar-13 20:08:41

This is the contradiction that I don't get. Learning a list of German/French/etc words is the cornerstone of teaching MFLs. Yet it doesn't work if the language is English??? confused

seeker Mon 11-Mar-13 20:14:14

Learning 10 new words in a new language to increase your vocabulary is completely different from learning spellings!

noramum Mon 11-Mar-13 20:36:44

MTS - I learned English as a language in school, I am German. Learning vocabulary isn't about spelling alone, it is about increasing your vocabulary as well as Seeker said.

When we got lists of words to learn they were always in context to the story or topics we read, not just pointless lists.

The only thing we had to learn as lists were the not-regular verbs like "take, took, taken".

teacherwith2kids Mon 11-Mar-13 20:58:31

MTS if all spelling words were words new to a child's vocabulary, and learning them also involved learning their meanings and using them correctly in context (which is what happens in MFL), then there might indeed be some value in learning words 10 at a time.....

blueberryupsidedown Mon 11-Mar-13 21:13:35

I have read most of the posts here, it's very interesting as DH (a primary school teacher) and I have different views on this. I think that having a list of words is useful, DH thinks it's not. But my question is, how do you improve a child's spelling? I have two DSs, one in year 2 and one in y1. The youngest is very good at spelling, I don't know why, he just has a very good visual memory I suppose. DS1 is the opposite - he really struggles with spelling. So can anyone give me tips on how to improve spelling - if not a list of new words to learn, how do I do it at home (please don't say 'read', he reads lots, every day, for school and for pleasure...)

For example, today he wrote a story and wrote 'showted' instead of shouted, 'urly' instead of early, and 'quikly' instead of quickly. If he doesn't learn to spell these words 'by heart', how is going to improve? He wrote them in a phonetically correct way...

teacherwith2kids Mon 11-Mar-13 21:32:35

Blueberry, if it were me - DD is my poor speller, DS is my good one - I would focus on a spelling rule or pattern.

e.g.. words in which the phoneme <er> is encoded by the grapheme 'ur'

Make a collection of such words from his reading, from his general vocabulary, by him trying out the sound, you looking up the word and finding out that it DOESN'T have 'ur' in it. Can you formulate any rules - or not?

This kind of exploration is much more valuable than a 'here are 10 words with 'ur' in them' approach, as the word he is interested in may not be in his 10 words and he never gets to see which words MIGHT contain ur but on research turn out not to.

Also try getting him to write down - or type, sometimes, as children may spot errors more easily in 'words that look as if they are in books' all the phonetically plausible options that he can think of for a word. Often, faced with all the options, a child who reads will spot 'the right one' even if it's not the first one they try when writing them down first time IYSWIM.

Others will be along with more suggestions soon, I am sure, but those aretwo I have used for DD with success.

seeker Mon 11-Mar-13 21:47:53

If you learn how to spell 10 words a week in school time, and remember half of them, you'll learn how to spell about 150 words in a school year. How many words are there in the English language?

I would listen to the trained professional if I were you!

CecilyP Mon 11-Mar-13 22:07:14

For example, today he wrote a story and wrote 'showted' instead of shouted, 'urly' instead of early, and 'quikly' instead of quickly. If he doesn't learn to spell these words 'by heart', how is going to improve? He wrote them in a phonetically correct way...

The obvious one to help with 'quikly' which may be phonically plausible but is not phonically correct in English. With almost all English words ending in a 'k' sound, eg quick before adding the suffix 'ly', it is spelt 'ck' - very few exceptions - learn that and you can spell hundreds of words, learn to spell 'quickly' in a random list and you have learned to spell one.

teacherwith2kids Mon 11-Mar-13 22:19:31

Cecily, that's exactly what I mean by creating word collections and formulating rules - as from such a collection rules like this can be deduced easily - and what we work out for ourselves we often remember much better than what we are just told.

MTSgroupie Tue 12-Mar-13 07:31:54

seeker - Listen to the trained professional? Isn't that selective advice? imeab

MTSgroupie Tue 12-Mar-13 07:41:34

seeker - Listen to the trained professional??? Isn't that selective advice? I mean, presumably a panel of 'professionals' is advising the government. A panel that is presumably made up of highly qualified experts in the field of education.

Yet there are regular threads slamming government policies. So when it comes to the government it's a bunch of ill conceived ideas that pander to the electorate. But when it comes to primary school teachers it's listen to the professionals. hmm

seeker Tue 12-Mar-13 09:39:57

So, find me some research, or a teacher who is actually teaching children who says that learning 10 spelling words a week is a valuable use of time and has a significant impact on children's spelling. The government picks its advisers with care, and it knows what parents want. Frequently parents want things which go against educational best practice- but as they are the voters..........

MTSgroupie Tue 12-Mar-13 10:52:04

grin at your conceit. You don't agree with the experts advising the government. You can't be wrong. Therefore the 'experts' were picked because they will tell the government what they wanted to hear.

seeker Tue 12-Mar-13 11:08:05

Find some research that says that learning spellings is a useful thing to do. As opposed to all the research that says it isn't.

ArielThePiraticalMermaid Tue 12-Mar-13 11:12:09

MTS, surely you're not suggesting those in government driving education are actually experts in education???? We all know that's bollocks and that education is used as a political football to detriment of children, schools and teachers. Gove knows nothing about learning. Absolutely nothing.

MTSgroupie Tue 12-Mar-13 14:54:19

seeker - It took me 5mins, while doing the school run, to go through DC's spellings. Do I really want to spend additional time going backwards and forwards over its effectiveness on MN with a bunch of anonymous strangers? Not really. Do/don't do spellings with your DCs. It doesn't impact on me if you don't.

seeker Tue 12-Mar-13 14:56:41

So what are you doing on a thread discussing spelling tests then?

Ruprekt Tue 12-Mar-13 16:20:28

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

teacherwith2kids Tue 12-Mar-13 17:36:27

MTS, I often spend odd 5 or 10 minute periods discussing spellings with my DD - the difference is that I talk about rules that will help her to spell 100s of words, rathr than getting her to spell 10 random words that she may never need to use.

You are, of course, welcome to spend time on school runs however you wish - recent subjects on ours have included the eradication of polio and multiplication of negative numbers - and if you are enjoying doing spellings that is fine. Just be aware that it isn't necessarily something that everyone should do, because research shows it has no discernable benefit. Not does discussing negative numbers, of course - we do that because it's fun and interesting.

Ruprekt Tue 12-Mar-13 21:18:11

Ooo-er!! I have never been deleted before!! I was just agreeing with seeker!

Seeker - you led me astray!smilesmile

seeker Tue 12-Mar-13 21:21:12

grin I suspect "obnoxious" was considered a personal attack!

Never been deleted? Call yourself a mumsnetter! You wait til you've been suspended..............!

deleted203 Tue 12-Mar-13 21:23:17

They read. People who read a lot learn to spell. It's that simple, honestly. We never had 'spellings' when I was at school - but we read books and picked it up.

Ruprekt Tue 12-Mar-13 22:48:09

ooh I would blush if I was suspended!!

<have you been suspended?> <<in awe of seeker>>

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