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Overcoming Spelling Problems

Students with reading difficulties usually have problems in spelling as well, and oftentimes have more severe deficits in spelling than in reading, says Hallahan et al. in Introduction to Learning Disabilities.

In reading, context and other cues help one to decode a word, but in spelling, one must produce the word after hearing or thinking it.

Spelling requires that a person produce in written or oral form the correct sequence of letters that form a particular word. To do this, a person converts sounds into written letters. With the exception of SMS language, there is only one correct way to spell any particular word with a given meaning. Thus, spelling does not allow any room for “creative” answers or “style”; a word is either spelled correctly or it is misspelled.

What Causes Spelling Problems?

Successful intervention is dependent on finding the cause or causes of a problem. To understand the cause of spelling difficulties it is important to keep in mind that learning is a stratified process, says Susan du Plessis, Director of Educational Programs at Edublox Reading and Learning Clinic.

“One has to learn to count before it becomes possible to learn to add and subtract. In the same way, there are also certain skills and knowledge that a child must have acquired first, before it becomes possible for him to benefit from a course in spelling.”

The skill of spelling embraces many foundational skills. Foundational skills of particular importance are the ability to analyse, i.e. to perceive the whole in its individual parts; auditory perception of letter sounds; auditory memory; decoding skills, and visual memory for sequences.

Shortcomings in one or more of these foundational skills can greatly affect a person’s spelling ability. At Edublox these foundational skills are addressed and automatised.