Funny anecdote, when I moved to New York from Canada I thought that overnight I had lost my ability to spell. When I began working as a Learning Specialist here in Manhattan, every report and learning document I created came back hacked up from the editors. I was initially perplexed but began to investigate the differences between American and British spellings. It turns out I can spell, I just wasn’t versed in American Standard English. Therein lies the tricky thing about mastering the English language, not only is it not phonetic, but there are also multiple ways to spell certain words.
You can add the ‘e” in likeable in Canada or the UK, but in America they really would rather you left it likable. You can double consonants in travelled, modelling or counsellor, but on US soil they prefer you if you traveled or took up modeling. If you wish you can accessorize your outfit in L.A. but in Toronto you accessorise. You can head to the London theatre but you will go to a theater in Manhattan. Don’t even get me started on adding or omitting “u” in everything from favourite or colour. Mastering these nuances can be a challenge for any young (or old in my case) learner. Luckily we have some fun ways to learn to spell and build that understanding of English orthographic mechanics. Below you will find my latest article for the Yellin Center Blog.
By Renée Jordan
It seems that these days there is an app for everything. So much so that it can cause any parent or teacher’s head to spin when trying to find tools for a specific need. However, when doing a little investigation into spelling apps, I found I kept coming up short. There were a lot of resources out there, but not all of them were robust enough to build critical orthographic skills. There are a variety of fun, engaging games available, but many tended to lack the educational vigor required to build skills or provide needed interventions.
Regular practice is key for building spelling skills. It is equally important to provide students with fun, motivating ways to practice these skills. We don’t want literacy learning to hinge exclusively on spelling tests and worksheets. With that in mind, I have chronicled a few of the strong, game-based digital tools that help students practice their spelling skills.
Spelling Monster is an app that allows kids to practice spelling words with fun interactive games. The stats section of the app will let parents or teachers know how long a child is practicing and where they might need extra help. Soon, teachers will have the ability to upload their own personalized spelling lists. Educators will then be able to set objectives and get alerts and weekly reports when students meet their goals.Spell with Pip is an interactive spelling game created by the makers of the Oxford dictionary. The game gradually gets more difficult as children progress through the levels. The game includes a personal dictionary, and focuses on words that children commonly find hard to spell. The added benefit that I find immensely helpful as a Canadian teacher working in America, is that the games can be offered in either US or UK English. That means whether you spell it “realize” or “realise”, this game has you covered.
Word Domino is a game that allows children to build words with the proposed syllable tiles. The game can be played in single or multi-player versions, which is a great way for students to build their recognition of letter patterns. There is a vocal synthesis function where words are spoken once they are found, which can reinforce sight word recognition also.