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How to move on from spelling phonetically?

(83 Posts)
LynetteScavo Fri 13-Sep-13 21:02:42

Is reading lots the answer? And if so, what do you do with a child who is a reluctant reader? confused

Cheryzan Fri 13-Sep-13 21:13:58

Reading lots only helps kids with good visual memories. For very very many kids reading does not help their spelling at all.

Periwinkle007 Fri 13-Sep-13 21:16:18

I must admit spelling worries me, for my kids I mean. I couldn't spell at all at school and only 'got it' when I studied latin in senior school and now my spelling and grammar are pretty good IMO. (not on here because I just type randomly but if I think about it then I can write correctly)

freetrait Fri 13-Sep-13 22:42:59

Spelling is taught really well via phonics teaching in our school. If your kid can hear the sounds and segment words they are sorted. If not then errrrrrrrrrrr they need to learn, or find another way (does one exist?) DS learnt to spell in Y1, although still needs some work- just tweaking I'd say though. I seem to remember learning some rules at school for some things, not sure they teach them nowadays. Eg DS wrote "iceing sugar", rule that when you add "ing" you get rid of the "e". That's useful isn't it, but you do need to be taught it. Teachers enlighten us, do you teach like this at all, or how do you tweak spelling once they are good phonetically but need the finer detail?

Wonderstuff Fri 13-Sep-13 22:58:13

I work with poor spellers, and I was always awful at spelling. Lots of things can be useful, interesting that learning Latin can help, I've never studied it, but really find learning the origins or root word useful, I remembered biscuit for example when I learnt it was from French and meant cooked twice. Learning 'rules' is useful, eg the vowel sound change when doubling a constanant and adding ing. I teach 'said' by having kids learn 'Sally Ann is dead' morbid but effective. When you aren't an intuitive speller it's tedious but you just have to put more effort in and practise.

English is a particularly difficult language, all them immigrants see, some words are Latin, some are Germanic..

Multisensory practise, like look, say, cover, write, check, are effective for individual words, as is writing a word correctly and then overwriting whilst saying it aloud repeatedly for a minute.

Wonderstuff Fri 13-Sep-13 23:00:13

You can't just do phonics, not all words are phonic, said for eg, and there are lots of digraphs for the same phonic sound often.

Cheryzan Sat 14-Sep-13 06:18:12

It's not that you can't teach spelling via phonics. It's that it only gives you a set of possible ways a word could be spelled.

Ie phonics will tell you there are many ways to spell 'ay'.


Phonics does not tell you which version of 'ay' you should choose. So once you've identified an 'ay' sound in a word you are no closer to knowing how to spell it.

So phonics just teaches you possible ways to spell a word.


Phonics is no help with teaching you which one of those 'here's is the correct one. They're all a correct spelling.

mathanxiety Sat 14-Sep-13 06:26:55

By reading copiously and by studying graduated spelling lists and language use in a systematic way. You can look at suggested samples of work for US second, third and fourth grade (age 6/7 to 8/9) on this site. The site also includes Dolch words.

A good solid foundation in phonics will get you far when learning to read and spell in English, but just plain learning the nuts and bolts (homophones, contractions, rules for future and past tense, rules for plurals, irregular nouns and verbs) will be necessary too, while reading, reading, reading alongside all of that.

This thread will become a debate about whether English is a suitable language for phonetic spelling, the limits of phonics (when rules apply to one or two words are they rules or are teachers teaching individual spellings?) and the merits of whole word vs. phonics for teaching of reading.

mrz Sat 14-Sep-13 09:45:40

Good, prolific readers aren't automatically good spellers unfortunately.
All words are spelt phonetically but children need to be taught which spelling for the sounds to use. Effective teaching requires blending for reading and segmenting for spelling to be taught together right from the start.

mrz Sat 14-Sep-13 09:50:08

Wonderstuff what isn't "phonic" about said? confused

Mashabell Sat 14-Sep-13 11:09:28

Phonics is useful for learning to spell words which follow the main English spelling patterns, such as 'cat, hat, sat' or 'date, late, mate', but not the 4,000 common words which disobey them in some way (plait, wait, eight, straight ...). The tricky or variant letters in them all have to be learned word by word.

For some sounds English does not even have a clearly dominant spelling pattern:
put foot would
speak speech shriek seize machine
shoddy body, copy poppy, muddy study, arrive arise
(i.e. consonant doubling in longer words is completely random).

The need to memorise the spellings of so many words one by one makes learning to write English very time-consuming (10 years, against just 1 year for Finnish). It also causes far more literacy testing, but nearly half of all school leavers never become proficient spellers.

Learning to spell English correctly (rather than phonically or sensibly) is mainly a matter of imprinting the right look of words on your mind. Apart from lots of writing, and the old LOOK - SAY - COVER - WRITE -CHECK method for words which won't stick, reading is what helps with learning to spell most of all.

Masha Bell

LynetteScavo Sat 14-Sep-13 17:03:30

mrz I pronounce said "sed", rather than "sayed", which is how it's spelled.

So, writing lots is more effective than reading lots? DS in Y6...I've been waiting for his spelling to click, but it just hasn't. (I have always been a poor speller - I know he gets this from me. I love spell check).

What does this mean for his SATS?

mrz Sat 14-Sep-13 17:24:30

well done LynetteScavo - the spelling <ai> is an alternative way to represent the sound /e/ as you spotted!
Just as in head the sound /e/ is spelt <ea> and in met it is spelt <e> ...phonics!

Cheryzan Sat 14-Sep-13 17:31:24

It means he'll do very badly in the SPaG test.

What'll it mean for his future education? Well, spelling now counts for 5% at GCSE in most subjects.

What'll it mean for his job prospects?

mathanxiety Sat 14-Sep-13 17:34:38

It's really not phonics when there are alternative pronunciations for the same combination of letters.

Teaching that s-a-i-d is 'sed' while m-a-i-d is 'mayd' = teaching a spelling.

hettienne Sat 14-Sep-13 17:41:10

Of course it is phonics if there are different pronunciations for the same letter combinations - what do you think phonics is? Phonics doesn't mean one letter = one sound.

mathanxiety Sat 14-Sep-13 17:55:43

Hettienne - Very broadly of course, you are teaching that letters correspond to sounds.

From the pov of teaching children to read or spell however, there are exceptions that are possibly better taught as exceptions - said, certain, curtain, although, enough, through, thought, bough, have, they, are some examples - there are many more. And then there are homonyms. For one reason or another, there are quite a few words in English that cannot be spelled correctly using a phonics based strategy. You could have a stab at them using phonics alone, but your result would most likely be wrong.

mrz Sat 14-Sep-13 18:47:00

No mathanxiety that is how phonics is taught in the UK ... children are taught that there are 44(ish) sounds depending on accent and that they are represented by about 175 common spellings - very few words have a unique sound /spelling representation. It's very straightforward when taught systematically and the homonym sound/spelling linked to meaning.
I would be interested to know what words do you believe cannot be spelt correctly using phonics?

Wonderstuff Sat 14-Sep-13 19:15:38

Which other words have ai representing a short e? I've always taught it as an exception.

mrz Sat 14-Sep-13 19:24:41

again bargain

teacherwith2kids Sat 14-Sep-13 19:51:30

(Bargain in my particular accent has an <i> not a short <e>, very different from again, which tbh I say with a true <ai> sound, whereas said is defnitely an <e>)

mrz Sat 14-Sep-13 20:01:50

most words have regional variation depending on accent... think of north south pronunciation grass bath etc

Wonderstuff Sat 14-Sep-13 20:12:23

Ah see I'd say again with a long a and bargain with a short i.

mrz Sat 14-Sep-13 20:14:10

how do you say against?

teacherwith2kids Sat 14-Sep-13 20:38:43

How I say 'again', followed by 'st'. In fact, having tried it out, I have an even atronger 'ay' in against than in again.

So I am genuinely trying to identify another 'ai' as <e> word in my accent - which is fine, just makes it a very small 'class of words' when teaching phonics.

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