Spelling is back in fashion, says the Christian Science Monitor.
While the elite are memorizing rare words in anticipation of the 78th annual competition in Washington June 1-2, seventh-graders in Rebekah Guerra’s English class are still trying to master the basics. Some mistakes in a recent assignment: diddent; edjucation; coledge; pronounceation; absolutly.
Mrs. Guerra offers daily spelling instruction, a sign of the subject’s comeback after several decades of neglect. While schools still vary greatly in their approaches to spelling, a growing emphasis on basic skills in US classrooms has prompted more teachers to return to explicit spelling instruction – instead of simply assuming that it’s a skill that kids will pick up as they go along.
When whole language caught on in the 1980s, spelling was considered unimportant.
“The theory was that if kids were readers and writers, in effect they would ‘catch’ expert spelling,” says Richard Gentry, author of “The Science of Spelling.”
Spellcheck can lead students astray, Guerra says.
Spellcheck can be a “godsend” for people who struggle, she says, but if students don’t already know enough proper spelling, they “look at a list [of alternatives] that a spell-checker gives them and just pick any old word. They end up with … words they never intended!”