Friday, May 20, 2011

Research: Spelling

Question: What list of words will suggest whether people know how to spell?

Answer: exaggerate, conscientious, accommodate, questionnaire, auxiliary, aggravate, occurrence, sergeant, embarrass, irresistible, vengeance, grievance, mischievous, calendar, existence, apparel, indispensable, temperament, etiquette, prophecy.

Words were selected from a list of difficult words identified by Simpson (1945).

Comment: These words represent a whole host of spelling problems, from the indefinite vowel (calendar) to multi-syllable words (accommodate) to pronunciation different from spelling (sergeant), to mispronunciation (mischievous), to prefixes (irresistible) and combinations of problems.

You can use this list of words in several ways. Ask students why each word is difficult to spell. Ask them how they would go about learning to spell each word. For ideas on how to organize a spelling program in this era of spelling checkers, consult Harry Shefter, Six Minutes a Day to Perfect Spelling ( and Chapter 15 in my book, Teaching English, How To…. Xlibris, 2004. RayS.

Title: “Learning to Spell: Three Studies at the University Level.” JE Ormrod. Research in the Teaching of English (May 1986), 160-172.

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