Spelling Tutor

Why isn’t < really > spelled *rile? This is the dilemma faced by children who try to spell words as they are pronounced. No wonder they feel frustrated! English is filled with weird spellings, right?
Child Spelling Sample

Spelling - Structure of a Word and the Meaning of a Word

Actually, our English writing system is coherent and elegant. We can make sense of spelling based on a word’s history, structure and pronunciation. In my approach, never again will a student memorize a list of ‘sight’ words. 

Why do we have different spellings of the words to, too and two? They each have a different meaning! Why is there a ‘w’ in two? That’s weird, right? Not if we consider the relationship of ‘two’ to other words that have the concept of two, such as twin and twice. See? Coherent and elegant! Let’s go back to the child who spelled *rile and investigate the word ‘real’ with the -ly suffix added. Now the word really REALLY makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Once the structure of this word is understood as real + ly, that understanding is lifelong. Once seen, the word structure cannot be unseen.

Written Language Versus Spoken Language

Our written language is different from our spoken language. Say this sentence out loud: I have to go to the store. Did you say something like “I hafta go tuh the store”? How confusing for a child to spell the sentence as it is pronounced!

Say the word “act.” Notice what happens in your mouth. Now say “action.” What has changed? Did you pronounce the ‘t’ the same way in both words? No, you didn’t! Again, can you see how confusing it would be to try spell a word as it is pronounced?

I teach students to understand that spelling is based on a word’s structure, and pronunciation can shift when adding prefixes and suffixes to the base element. As a spelling tutor, I make that structure very visible for students. That’s why memorization of sight words is no longer required. Memorization is then replaced with understanding.

An Example of How Understanding is Built

This student notices the difference between graphemes <e> &  <a> and the digraph <ea>. Investigating a word’s structure is important when reading and spelling.