Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Topic: Spelling

10-Second Review: What can we learn from a list of misspelled words sent by teachers to the researcher?

Title: Review of “Commonly Misspelled Words in Grades 9 – 12.” Thomas Pollock. English Journal (April 1974), 98. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Asked teachers to send him the next 50 misspelled words from their students. Received 50,000 misspelled words from 1706 teachers. Half the misspelling accounted for 388 words.

Twenty-five most misspelled words: their, too, receive, there, all right, separate, believe, until, coming, whether, interest(ing), writing, tried (tries), privilege, decide, finally, beginning, character, surprise, humor (ous), business, grammar, definite, disappoint, description (ive).

Types of errors: 39% errors in endings of words (examples with misspellings: appearence/ appearance, writting/writing, artical/article).

20% misspellings of vowels (examples with misspellings: jelous/jealous, magizine/magazine, theif/thief).

12 % misspellings of consonants (examples with misspellings: profecy/prophecy, embaras/embarrass, climed/climbed, morgage/mortgage).

9% prefixes (examples with misspellings: biblography/bibliography, discribe/describe).

Comment: I wonder if the same lists would occur today with spelling checkers. In my recommendations for spelling instruction, I use different categories of spelling words in my book Teaching English, How To…. I think they are more systematic: multi-syllabic/accommodate; -sede, -ceed, -cede words; words ending in -ful; indefinite vowed/grammar; rules; plurals of nouns ending in o/tomatoes, pianos; doubling final consonants/ prefer, preferred; -ly/accidentally; prefixes/dissatisfied; c/s confusion/consensus; pronunciation/amateur; words frequently confused/compliment, complement; silent letters/benign; plurals/passers-by. RayS.

The purpose of this blog is to summarize articles on teaching English/language arts, from kindergarten through college, published in English education journals from the past.

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