Parents who are concerned about their child's development of spelling skills may find themselves wondering how invented spelling fits into the learning process.
Invented spelling, sometimes referred to as inventive spelling, is the practice of spelling unfamiliar words by making an educated guess as to the correct spelling based on the writer's existing phonetic knowledge.
Examples of invented spelling include:
In 1975, linguist Charles Read conducted a study of preschoolers who were beginning to relate letter names to the sounds of the alphabet. He discovered that students commonly "invented" spellings for words in their daily vocabulary by rearranging letters to fit their perception of the rules of the English language. He wrote,
"One sees clearly that different children chose the same phonetically motivated spellings to a degree that can hardly be explained as resulting from random choice or the influence of adults. Learning to spell is not a matter of memorizing words, but a developmental process that culminates in a much greater understanding of English spelling than simple relationships between speech sounds and their graphic representations."
Thus, from a technical perspective, invented spelling is not an instructional technique. It is merely a natural process that all children use as they are beginning to write. In a classroom where invented spelling is allowed, a teacher will not deduct points from the student's grade as a penalty for misspelled words on a composition.
The advantages of allowing invented spelling in the classroom include:
The potential disadvantages of allowing invented spelling in the classroom include:
Currently, most educators consider invented spelling to be a developmentally appropriate step in the process of learning to read and write. It is not believed that allowing invented spelling in the classroom will significantly interfere with a child's ability to learn to spell correctly in later years.
Many people compare invented spelling with the efforts a child makes when he or she first learns to speak. Just as a parent would not criticize a child's first attempts to reproduce the sounds of verbal language, a child's efforts to master written communication skills should be encouraged as well.
If your child's school has decided to allow invented spelling in the classroom, you can help by remembering the following tips:
To learn more about invented spelling, check out the following helpful links:
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