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Milestones of Spelling in Primary School
Spelling is a complex subject to teach – While it is tempting to think autocorrect and other software will solve all of our problems, the reverse is true. The ever-changing demands of communication in the 21st century require greater flexibility than any other time in history. It has never been more important for pupils to learn how to spell.
As with all learning areas, pupils progress at different rates and may follow a range of learning pathways…
- Within the first 3 years of primary school, spelling instruction targets the development of phonetic understanding. The focus is on helping pupils become more consistent in their use of conventional spellings and begin to remember a small bank of high-frequency words.
- When pupils are aged between 7-10 years old spelling instruction moves away from a strong reliance on Phonology and focuses on the acceptable letter patterns of the English Language. (Orthography).
- By the end of Primary School spelling instruction continues to focus on acceptable letter patterns, but also focuses on Morphology as pupils add prefixes and suffixes to root words, become more confident in spelling multisyllabic words and investigate the origins of words.
How Spelling is Taught in Schools
It is commonly thought that spelling is a fixed ability or a genetic trait, and it is dependent completely on our reading ability and memory. In reality, spelling is a skill that can be learned and must be taught explicitly which requires more than a good memory to properly understand.
- Insufficient time to deliver proper instruction:
- In an increasingly crowded curriculum, teachers have less time to focus on each subject. Spelling can easily become a casualty in the fight against time. It is frequently given the reduced focus in the larger subject of literacy and ends up with less attention than it deserves.
- Pupils cannot hold onto their spelling knowledge:
- The “Friday Spelling Tests” phenomena showed that pupils excelled at remembering how to spell words for tests but failed to retain the information after the tests were over.
- This is due to the perfect storm caused by insufficient time and use as the primary spelling strategy – we lack the time to teach in-depth spelling and are forced to rely on short-term memorisation techniques. This learning isn’t sticking and it shows.
- Pupils find spelling a boring subject:
- When relying on memorisation to teach spelling it reinforces the idea that spelling is an innate ability…so pupils start to believe “What is the point?” and their practice and fluency tasks seem disconnected, purposeless and repetitive.
How can we Improve this?
At Emile, we have been working hard and listening to what teachers need. It is important to consider the workload teachers are expected to get through, as well as teach and live their normal everyday life. Not just this, but the expectations we have for pupils, which sometimes are challenging to follow.
As we know, teaching to spell is an everyday occurrence, young pupils must be exposed to spelling in order for them to remember it and know it. That is why Emile, after some extensive research and feedback has produced a new feature for our Spelling App. This feature follows the “look, say, cover and check” approach through game-based learning and has been designed for homework or classroom warm-ups.
Spelling with Emile is focused on raising classroom performance as well as providing the maximum challenge for students, so they can really understand and learn to spell, whilst also having fun. Pupils are able to compete with their classmates as well as the rest of the school and/or any neighbouring schools that use Emile.
Simple to roll out school-wide, as well as having the brilliant choice of being able to load up YOUR own spelling lists. Although, we also have lists that Emile can provide, which follow the standards set out by the national curriculum.