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Spelling Can Be Easy When It’s Logical

Spelling Can Be Easy When It's Logical

Sometimes the English language just doesn’t make sense!”

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. And maybe it’s even been your experience, especially with spelling. But the English language doesn’t have to be confusing. In fact, spelling can be easy. Give me a few minutes and I’ll show you how!

Look at Spelling From a Child’s Perspective

Many spelling programs reduce spelling down to simple repetition of lists of words that have no obvious connection to each other.

These lists often include words with different spellings of the same sound—with no explanation as to why these spellings make sense. Take a look at the spelling list below.

Spelling List-final2

If your child is learning to spell with this method, he is asked to memorize a list of words through practice and repetition. After being tested on the words, he moves on to a new list of words with little connection to the previous list. But if your child is like most children, the words are not committed to long-term memory and he quickly forgets them. Perhaps you have both experienced the feelings of failure and frustration that can result from this type of learning.

Spelling Doesn’t Have to Be This Way!

Despite what you may have come to believe about the difficulties of the English language, English does conform to predictable patterns, and more importantly, those patterns can be taught to your child. There is a better—and more logical—way to learn to spell than by rote memorization of list after list of unrelated words.

The graphic below may be a bit extreme…

…but it is a light-hearted look at how crazy English can seem when you don’t understand the logic behind it. For example, the sound of /f/ can be spelled F, FF, PH, or GH, leading to the silly pharrembar (farmer) spelling in the graphic.

Spelling Can Be Easy When It's Logical - An All About Spelling Series

So…how do you make spelling logical?

Logic is my strong suit. When I’m faced with a problem, such as making sense of the English language, I try to decipher it. I look for the rationale—the relationships between the parts, the “whys.” Then I pursue an elegant solution, and that means seeking the simplest yet most effective solution I can find.

And that brings us to the All About Spelling lessons. Here are some examples of how I’ve made spelling logical:

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Show kids how to spell the sound of /j/ at the end of a word.

Why is the /j/ sound in fudge spelled with DGE instead of simply J or GE? If your kids don’t know the simple reason, spelling may seem weird and confusing. This tip—and dozens of others like it—REALLY simplifies spelling and makes it more logical. Download this lesson plan to see how easily this rule can be taught.

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Eradicate “The Myth of Silent E.”

Dozens of phonics programs teach that Silent E makes the previous vowel long, as in the word home. But that’s only part of the truth, and it doesn’t explain the Silent E in hundreds of words such as have and hinge. To make spelling logical, it’s important to teach all the jobs of Silent E. Download this lesson plan to see how we teach Silent E after a U or V, as in true and love.

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End “Suffix Confusion.”

With this fail-safe method, adding suffixes becomes crystal clear. Download two lessons that provide an introduction to spelling with suffixes.

The entire series uses a step-by-step approach, with each skill carefully building upon the previous ones. This allows kids to see the organized, logical patterns behind English spelling. And I took great pains to highlight the consistency of the English language. (Did you know that only 3% of English words are actually irregular, and the remaining 97% of words follows predictable patterns? It’s true!)

After kids learn the logic behind spelling, they’ll never make these spelling mistakes!

farmer

“mispelling” – Ironically, this word is often misspelled.

To prevent future butchering of this word, let your child know that we keep prefixes intact when we add them to a word. Therefore, when we combine mis + spelling, we keep both S’s: misspelling.

farmer

“akros” – The poor word across…it takes such a beating. Here are some tips:

  • When you hear /ŭ/ at the beginning of a word, it is usually spelled A.
  • The sound of /k/ is spelled with a C unless it is followed by an E, I, or Y. (Those vowels make a C say /s/, so we use a K to keep the hard /k/ sound.)
  • Double the S at the end of the word to keep it from looking like a plural word.
farmer

“hapy” – Unhappily, the word happy is often botched up by young spellers.

Since they only hear one P, they often don’t remember to add the second P. To keep the joy, explain that the second P is needed to keep the first vowel short. (Learn more about the word happy in this lesson plan.)

Did you enjoy this post? Be sure to read the whole series to learn how Spelling Can Be Easy!

Are you curious about the logic behind how a certain word is spelled? Post it in the comments below and I’ll choose a few words to analyze from your suggestions!

Six Ways We Make Spelling Easy Report
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Leave a Comment

Jen

says:

I just started homeschooling our 8 year old! She has dyslexia, and the teacher at the private school I sent her to wouldn’t work with me on implementing anything Maleia’s dyslexic tutor was teaching. It was very frustrating for her and sad for me. She would get in the car and ask me if she was “stupid” it broke my heart. Maleia is a very smart girl who just needed a little extra help, and her teacher didn’t “have time” to help her in class. The class size was only 10 students. I went in multiple times from September-January trying to work something out. Maleia’s teacher kept insisting she needed to go back into 1st grade. I knew that wasn’t right as I did homework and read with her every day! Did she struggle? Yes.. Did she struggle bad enough to put her back in 1st grade? Absolutely not!!! We made the decision for me to pull her out of school and homeschool her. I did hours apon hours of research on different dyslexic curriculum. I purchased AAS level 1. Maleia does amazing, and the things I’m teaching her make sen e to her because her tutor who teaches her for 45 mi. To an hour 3 days a week is doing the same curriculum with her! The tutor teaches the same rules by Orton Gillingham! I am using The Essentials of English by Logics of English also a Orton Gillingham based curriculum. I’m still going to order AAR because I’ve read how it goes great with AAS! Maleia is doing fantastic and loves me homeschooling her! I wish I would’ve started in September when I started having problems with her teacher making Maleia feel bad about herself. I have noticed a huge change in Maleia’s confidence with spelling, writing, and reading! It’s absolutely amazing and I will be forever greatful for a program that’s helping me get my fun loving, free spirited, talkative, beautiful daughter back on track!😊 Does anyone have a good math, science, and Social Studies curriculum they could reccome d for me? Thanks!!
Jen

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jen,
Thank you for sharing Maleia’s story with us. I am happy to hear you have found a way to help her learn in a way that works best for her, and to help her know that she is smart!

When looking for other curriculum, look for options that have you read aloud to your daughter and that make use of hands-on learning. There are lots of options out there. We don’t get a lot of discussion between commenters on our blog, but if you ask on our Facebook group you will likely get lots of curriculum suggestions.

Carole

says:

Hard to believe this : Did you know that only 3% of English words are actually irregular, and the remaining 97% of words follows predictable patterns? It’s true! i think this program would benefit my two boys as well as myself.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carole,
Yes! This fact surprises so many people. The problem lies that English uses 250 ways to spell 45 sounds, so while it is predictable patterns there is a lot of variableness in those patterns. If you aren’t careful, that amount of variableness can seem unpredictable.

Elo

says:

I like your teachings, they are very very intuitive; and logical indeed..

Jennifer S

says:

We are in Level 5, Step 19. I wonder about the sound of /j/ spelled “age” at the end of these words. Why aren’t these spelled with “dge”? Why don’t they follow the rules for adding suffixes, like dropping the silent e in mileage? And why don’t damage and manage have long first syllables, since only one consonant ought to go with the later syllable and leave the first syllable open? Our crazy English language :)

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Jennifer,

Although we tend to pronounce these words with a short I sound “ij,” these are not true short vowels (the A isn’t a short A sound). What’s happening in words like this is that the vowel is in an unaccented syllable (called a “schwa” sound). Vowels in unaccented syllables get muffled. Often a schwa vowel will sound like a short U, but sometimes it can sound like another vowel instead. (Schwa vowels first showed up in Level 2, step 4.) So in this case, the “dge” ending actually wouldn’t make sense.

Mileage is an exception, which is why the lesson has the student divide the word into syllables to learn the pattern. I have seen “milage” as an alternate spelling, but don’t know if it will “catch on” and become a preferred spelling at some point!

Damage and manage are divided “dam-age” and “man-age.” Though a single consonant between two vowels usually goes with the second vowel, it doesn’t always, and there have been words along the way that the student has learned that follow the less common pattern. Some words the student has learned like this: copy, body, habit, finish.

Most of the time, you’ll see this type of thing happen in longer words–it’s less common in 2-syllable words, especially words that come to us through Old and Middle English, which tend to prefer to double the consonant to make it very clear whether a syllable is short.

Yes, these are definitely things that make English difficult to learn!

Debbie

says:

What age is this program for

Merry

says:

Hi Debbie,

All About Spelling has been used by people of all ages–preschool to adult! We recommend starting in first or second grade if you can, but many older students who need remedial work in spelling or who want to learn the spelling rules use it as well. Let me know if you have questions about getting an older student started; I’d be glad to help.

Leanna

says:

I love this program! My daughter is still confusing p d and b in lowercase form.
What tips or tricks can help?

Merry

says:

Hi Leanna,

This is a common problem for younger students, though I know it’s frustrating. Marie has a wonderful article about reversals with tactile ideas and activities using large arm movements.

http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/how-to-solve-b-d-reversal-problems/

If you have an older student whose reversals may be more ingrained, know that it can take quite awhile to work on these. Be consistent–a little work each day can make a big difference. Work on one letter at a time and make it a focus until you see some improvement with that one. Feel free to contact me if you have additional questions.

Krista

says:

We have been talking about c making the /k/ sound or /s/ sound

S

says:

My kids have both become better spellers and writers because of this program! I’ve enjoyed watching them grasp the concepts taught to them.

Debbie

says:

I am working with teenage dropouts in another country who are trying to learn English. English spelling is very confusing to them. I am interested in trying some of these plans in the next week or so.

Tyra

says:

My 8-year-old daughter is an excellent reader, but she has a very difficult time spelling. We are using a traditional list spelling curriculum, but it’s not helping her really understand spelling. I’m going to try some of your sample lessons and see how she responds.

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