Are you a super speller yet?

Are you a super speller yet?


Are you a super speller yet?

Is the Internet and technology ruining your child’s ability to spell words? Sudha Subramaniam provides tips to fix this inadequacy

Remember the time when we were kids and we had to spell? We spent hours memorising the words, especially if we had a dictation test the following day. Things have changed a lot since, haven’t they? Children now face difficulty getting even the simplest of spellings right. But before I explain how to simplify the art of spelling, it is important, as parents and educators, to understand the importance of spelling correctly.

We all know that words are the building blocks of any language and that language is the primary means of communication. Spellings help create the written code of communication. Communication is complete when there is a thorough transfer of information. By spelling incorrectly, there can be ambiguity in comprehension which is why spellings are stressed upon so much since childhood. The written form of communication is as much popular today, in the age of the Internet, as it was in the days gone by. But trouble comes calling in the form of short messaging (sms language). This easy-to-use format has become the preferred mode of exchanging notes, leaving youngsters confused about spellings.

For example, children generally wonder if  the word ‘look’, is spelt as ‘l-u-k’ or ‘l-o-o-k’. This is a valid question — if the pronunciation is the same when spelt differently and the other person perfectly understands what is being said, then why bother learning to spell right?

Short messaging and using words spelt in a certain way, can be valid only when communicating with certain people. For universal understanding, languages use certain standards that help smoother understanding. This is where spellings come into the picture.

Natural way to learn

Most schools use phonics to teach children to spell. Children are taught to pronounce the words correctly through spelling. This methodology forms a connection between the sound of the word and spelling, helping them to tell one word from the other. This tool, over the years, has gained acceptability in most parts of the world and has become popular.

Games are a popular way to increase the strength of spellings in children. Scrabble, Hangman, crossword puzzles, jumbled words, are all fun ways to train children in spelling right.

Another way of learning how to spell right is by increasing one’s vocabulary. Reading undoubtedly helps increase one’s knowledge of words — in terms of usage, spelling and diction. Spelling and reading have a common factor —  they both help improve one’s proficiency of language. The more a person reads, the better he/she is at registering the connection between words and their meanings.

Parents should read out to their children a lot. When children learn to listen to the sounds of many words, and see the words that are being read out, they naturally tend to connect the sounds and alphabets that make up the word.

Have a list of words that children can learn to recognise by just looking at them and not having to spell the word. Read out words such as ‘which, what, that, they, this, should’.

These words appear often in books. Through constant contact with these words, kids will begin to get familiar, thereby getting better at spelling them out. These words are called ‘sight words’ for a reason. Help kids make their own list of ‘sight words’. Help your child to recognise certain words that can be broken into two or more parts and then help them to spell these correctly.

Traditionally, to master any language, three factors are believed to be important – auditory, visual and vocal. So the more they listen and see a word, the more capable they are of reproducing the same spellings.

Note to students

Most importantly, spellings are not as tough as they appear. Befriending them will help you see that. The science of spellings is not such a difficult code to deconstruct. So go ahead and become a super speller.

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