When we live in a world filled with "LOLs" and "BRBs," it's unsurprising to see many words with invented spellings. The trouble is, no award-winning author ever thought "tho" was actually the way to spell "though."
So, does invented spelling fit anywhere into the learning process? The honest answer is yes. It's not something that can be avoided, and is actually a natural part of developing spelling skills. Let's take a look at how to incorporate this simple fact of life into your next spelling lesson.
Invented spelling, sometimes referred to as inventive spelling, is the practice of spelling unfamiliar words with an educated guess, based on 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 standpoint, invented spelling is not an instructional technique. It's merely a natural process that all children use as they're beginning to write. In a classroom where invented spelling is allowed, a teacher wouldn't deduct points from the student's grade for misspelled words in a composition.
There are advantages to invented spelling in the classroom. When monitored closely, it can offer a number of benefits for the blossoming speller. For example:
The potential disadvantages of allowing invented spelling are probably what you'd expect. For example:
You won't be hard-pressed to find teachers who consider invented spelling to be a developmentally appropriate step in the early stages of a child's reading and writing. Many will argue that invented spelling does not interfere with a child's ability to spell correctly in later years.
Many people compare invented spelling with the efforts a child makes when first learning to speak. A parent wouldn't criticize a child's first attempts to reproduce the sounds of the verbal language. Accordingly, 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:
If this is something of interest to you, why not take a look at it from several different angles? Feel free to explore the following links to see if this technique is right for your little learners: