Spelling and reading are mirror sides of each other. Spelling is the encoding of words, putting letters together to make words. Whereas reading is the decoding of words, interpreting words. These sides work hand in hand. In order to spell a word, you need to pull the word apart, a sound, pattern, or syllable at a time and retrieve the letters that represent those sounds, patterns, and syllables. You then either write them down or say them. The auditory, visual and tactile/kinesthetic memory systems are involved in this process. Think about it, how many times have you spelled a word out-loud and then write it down to double-check your spelling?
Researchers Brenda Rapp and Kate Lipka state, “We find clear evidence of shared substrates for reading and spelling. The results specifically provide strong support for a shared lexical orthographic function in reading and spelling in the left mid-fusiform region.” In other words, there are specific shared areas of the brain that build links between the visual forms and auditory forms of whole words. Further studies by (Shahar-Yames and Share, 2008; Ouellette, 2010) conclude that practice writing your words brings an advantage to the long-term encoding-retrieval match (memory system retrieving the spelling of words).
So, how do you develop and improve both spelling and reading skills?
Spelling and reading need to be taught in an explicit manner made up of phonics instruction, the structural analysis including prefixes, suffixes, and root words, and comprehension strategies. You also can be taught to increase your rate of rapidly naming objects with specific exercises designed specifically with that in mind. However, you do not want to only do that. Any skill taught in isolation remains that, an improved skill in isolation, unless you make the bridge to bring the skill from the isolated practice to real-life practice.
With spelling, you need to be taught in an explicit manner the sounds of the words and how to pull them together to make words. This is part of phonics and structural analysis referred to in the above paragraph. Our Summer Reading Program teaches the sounds of the letters, how to put the sounds together to make words, and the several of the 8 structural vowel patterns in the English language. This addresses both encoding and decoding of words. This helps to cement, so to speak, your ability to both encode and decode thousands of words. Additionally, since best practices say these skills should not be taught in isolation, we work on the fluency of decoding words through the fluency portion of the program and comprehension through additional written techniques and games.
Who is Bonnie Terry?
Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET is the author of Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills, Ten Minutes To Better Study Skills, and numerous other books, reading games, and guides. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of BonnieTerryLearning.com. Terry is an expert in identifying students’ learning disabilities. Ms. Terry coaches teachers and parents so they can give their child a 2 to 4-year learning advantage in just 45-60 minutes a day. She is a frequent media guest and speaker.