The whole-word approach teaches common, irregularly spelled words that cannot be spelled by applying phonemic generalisations. The intensive approach used in lessons helps students memorise the spellings of high-frequency words that they use in writing.
The phonemic approach teaches students predictable spellings for different sounds. Beginning spellers need this approach. It helps them generalise the spelling of many words and word parts that follow regular patterns.
The morphemic approach teaches more advanced spellers to spell meaningful units (bases and affixes) of words and to combine them to form multisyllabic words. Once students learn the rules for combining a relatively small number of these units, or morphographs, they can spell thousands of words.
How do we combine the three approaches to teaching spelling? There are six levels in the spelling program (A-F). Levels A and B are primarily phonemic, but they also include some very basic morphographic generalisations. Level C moves from the phonemic approach to the morphogrphic approach. Levels D-F are morphographic. Some English words do not fit either phonemic or morphographic generalisations. These irregularly-spelled, highly useful words are taught in all levels using an intensive, whole-word approach.
There are three approaches to teaching spelling: whole-word, phonemic, and morphemic. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.
The whole-word approach requires students to memorise the spelling of individual words. The students receive no rules, but simply recieve rote information such as: the word quiet is spelled q-u-i-e-t.
The advantage of whole-word spelling is in teaching words that cannot be spelled by applying generalisations (words such as answer).
The disadvantage of whole-word spelling is that it is inefficient. If 2,000 words are to be taught, each must be presented seperately, as a unit that is unrelated to the other words to be taught.
The phonemic approach is based on sound-symbol relationships. It involves teaching students the letters for various sounds, e.g., the sound /n/ is spelled n.
The main advantage of this approach is that it gives beginning spellers generalisations for spelling many words and word parts.
The phonemic approach is weakest when applied to words of more than one syllable, especially those words contatining an unstressed vowel that sounds like "uh" and could be spelled with any vowel letter. The "uh" in the word relative (rel-uh-tiv) could be spelled with a, e, i, o, or u.
The morphomic approach to spelling teaches students to spell units (bases and affixes) of words and to put them together to form words. One term - morphograph - applies to all these units.
The main advantage of using morphographs is that a small number of them can be combined to form a large number of words. The morphographic approach is most efficient for multisyllabic words. These words can be taught as combinations of morphographs. Five or six hundred morphographs combine to form thousands of words. For example, the seven morphographs re, dis, un, cover, pute, ed, and able can be used to form more than twenty-five words: recover, recoverable, recovered, unrecoverable, unrecovered, repute, reputable, reputed, disreputable, disrepute, coverable, covered, uncover, uncoverable, uncovered, discover, discoverable, discovered, undiscoverable, undiscovered, dispute, disputable, disputed, undisputable, undisputed, etc.
The disadvantage of a morphemic approach is that learning to spell morphographs may depend on sound-symbol and whole-word analyses.
Each of the six levels (A-F) has 120 lessons. Each lesson takes about 15 to 20 minutes. The focus is on teaching spelling to a high level of mastery.
Before starting, your child will take the Placement Test. Results will show in which level (A-F) to place your child. Some children may be accelerated through the program, skipping some lessons.
Your child can work with the teacher in a one-to-one learning situation, or within a small group.
Drop your child off before school for a great start to the day. Have your child come here again after school and pick him or her up after work. Our address is 18 Thornton Place in Melville, Hamilton.
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