Pronunciation

Part of our Spelling Series: Five days a week I spend a large portion of each morning teaching spelling.  I watch children working, like ancient scribes, to represent their speech sounds with the symbols I am teaching them.  I do teach standard spelling.  I do not teach them to spell any way that feels right, but…

-ible, -able Endings

Part of our Spelling Series: There are some things that most of us readers and speakers of English just know.  The letter q is always followed by u.  I don’t care what the Scrabble Dictionary says.  Though si sometimes sounds like sh (session), I don’t remember ever seeing anyone trying to use si for the sh…

Phonograms

Part of our Spelling Series: Oy, Oi, Those Diphthongs! diphthong – A complex speech sound beginning with one vowel sound and moving to another vowel or semivowel position within the same syllable (Webster’s II, 1984). Somehow it helps me a little that the definition of a diphthong uses the word “complex?”  Because that word sounds…

The Next Step: Blended Families

Part five of our Spelling series: Blended Families You’ve been working with your child on the single-sound consonants and the first sounds of vowels.  He knows that most of the e’s on the ends of words are silent but busy.  He’s wanting to know how to spell everything and trying to read signs and cereal…

Let’s Get Started

Let’s Get Started I’ve established that simply telling children, “English spelling doesn’t make sense, just learn it,” doesn’t work for me.  I have also asserted that teaching phonics is essential.  After my foray into a bit of the history of English, someone commented, “Fine, but I still don’t know how to teach spelling.” All right…

How Came We to Spell Thus

Part of our Spelling Series: How Came We to Spell Thus? Something to keep in mind in the midst of the “exception” frustration with English spelling is the fact that “way back when” (not to be too specific) there were no silent letters.  All of the letters are there because they were pronounced at some…

A Severely Abbreviated History of English

Part of our Spelling Series:   “The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it. They spell it so abominably that no man can teach himself what it sounds like.” – Pygmalion, Bernard Shaw The other day, my daughter (who is just now beginning to homeschool her first-born)…

On Teaching Spelling

I have a confession, and I hope you won’t hate me for it . . .  Spelling is easy for me.  I started first grade in 1968.  They weren’t teaching phonics.  It didn’t matter—I already knew how to read.  Everyone else was working their way through Sally, Dick, and Jane.  What I remember about spelling…