teaching spelling to a native speaker
Thread poster: Alessandro Cattelan
Alessandro Cattelan
Italy
Local time: 01:54
English to Italian
+ ...
Dec 23, 2005

Hello,
I'm currently teaching English in an Italian public school and one of my students is a 17-year-old girl from Nigeria who speaks English very well (she has not forgotten it even though she's been living in Italy for over 10 years) but who can't write a single word in it.

I'm trying to find a way to teach her some spelling but I can't think of anything good.

The problem is that I can't teach her spelling during my classes - the only thing I can do is have her write something on the blackboard everytime this is needed and she seems to appreciate it. That is obviously not enough, though.

Could any of you suggest some good method to teach her how to write properly? It should be some kind of activity that she can carry out on her own and maybe not too boring.

Reading some books or newspaper articles could help but I think she needs something more.

Thank you,
Ale.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:54
German to English
Teaching spelling Dec 23, 2005

Hello Ale, I'm not sure I understand the young lady's situation. She can read but she can't write in any language, including Italian? Is she just a poor speller or is it a matter of learning the mechanics of writing?

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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 02:54
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Self help book Dec 23, 2005

There is a self help book: Making Sense of Spelling and Pronunciation by Christine Digby and John Meyers; Prentice Hall International English Language Teaching; ISBN 0-13-554205-7.

It may help.

Stephen Rifkind


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
dictation + transcription Dec 23, 2005

Alessandro Cattelan wrote:

Hello,
I'm currently teaching English in an Italian public school and one of my students is a 17-year-old girl from Nigeria who speaks English very well (she has not forgotten it even though she's been living in Italy for over 10 years) but who can't write a single word in it.

I'm trying to find a way to teach her some spelling but I can't think of anything good.

The problem is that I can't teach her spelling during my classes - the only thing I can do is have her write something on the blackboard everytime this is needed and she seems to appreciate it. That is obviously not enough, though.

Could any of you suggest some good method to teach her how to write properly? It should be some kind of activity that she can carry out on her own and maybe not too boring.

Reading some books or newspaper articles could help but I think she needs something more.

Thank you,
Ale.


Seems to me that she needs to work a lot by herself. This is like a toddler, who speaks and understands, but is not yet able to write. The fact that she can read is a bit strange, as surely being able to read is a help in being able to write, even if incorrectly.

I suggest making regular short 5 minute recordings on tape for her as dictation, it could start with the alphabet or individual words(along the lines of A for apple) or beyond that if you thought she was capable (daily routine, what 'John' did yersterday, etc). If spelling is a particular problem, then you could supplement the programme with spelling memorisation exercises based on errors as they occur in her transcriptions. E.G., every 2nd/3rd day a dictation, alternating with spelling homework.


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Alessandro Cattelan
Italy
Local time: 01:54
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
she's a very poor speller Dec 23, 2005

Lia Fail wrote:
Seems to me that she needs to work a lot by herself. This is like a toddler, who speaks and understands, but is not yet able to write. The fact that she can read is a bit strange, as surely being able to read is a help in being able to write, even if incorrectly.


Thank you all for your advice.

The girl I'm talking about can read and write in Italian just like any other student. She can also read and write a little English but she'd really need to improve her spelling ability.

Unfortunately I don't have the possibility to help her with special classes nor do I have enough time to dedicate to her needs, therefore she should work by herself... But what activities would be of more benefit to her?

Could you recommend some online resources on spelling? Or any other activity?

Thanks,
Ale.


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gabotrad  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 20:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
copy texts, read aloud Dec 23, 2005

Alessandro, I have a suggestion I find interesing or at least sounds appropriate (to me) for this particular case.
Not that I've heard of it somewhere, or perhaps I have but I can´t remember where, and not that I´m a teacher either, but I'd suggest she reads texts for herself, texts that perhaps you could choose for her, or those you use in class, small/short stories, pieces of news, or texts she could get on the internet, and start reading them and at the same time, by herself, on her own, copying them on a piece of paper, manually, I don´t mean on a computer.
She could start with easy/simple texts and increase difficulty as (if) she improves her spelling.
If I got it right, she can read and speak English fine, so she can understand the sense of sentences and texts. This could tackle her problem with spelling, as she would presumably get used to the graphic form of the language, of some words of the language, common combinations of letters, the plurals, the articles, the prefixes, all those small pieces that she´ll find are repeated to create what we know as language.
She could later try some other exercises as a) learning a very short text by hard, reading it once and again (she could read it both aloud and silently), close to memorizing it, then copy the first sentence or two sentences and try finish writing it on her own, without looking at the text; b) she could do this, in fact, as a second exercise after copying a text -i.e., trying to write it down but, this time, without looking at the original, just trusting her memory.
The benefit should be that she familiarizes with the shape of words and how they are associated to sounds and meanings.
A further exercise could be that she tries to write on her own, by just giving a different end to a story she already knows (something simple like two friends who meet and go somewhere, only in her version they would go somewhere else). You could take the beginning of some text she has been exercising the copying thing, provide her with a new one, etc.
If she has access to audio (cassettes or video recordings with some English spoken), she could make the effort of writing randomly any word she finds easy to write, every 30 seconds or so, then as much words she recognizes, then she could be writing phrases, small structures of words, then sentences.
Just encourage her to read and write, and that she does it frequently, several times a week.
Hope this helps. Good luck, and for her too!

Gabriel


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Catherine Brix
Local time: 01:54
Swedish to English
+ ...
Practice Dec 24, 2005

Since you're a teacher, you know that practice is essential. I'm not a teacher but my daughter, born and raised in Sweden, has been in the US for a few months at a city college. She found out the hard way that what passes for "good English" in Sweden is pretty mediocre when studying at a college level. So I searched for some interactive sites where she could practice spelling, verb conjugation, etc. There are several, this is the one she's been using. If it has helped or not is difficult to say, but she feels more confident which is a major step in all learning. You might want to give it a shot.

http://teachers.henrico.k12.va.us/specialist/franceslively/spelling.htm

And good luck - to you both!
Catherine

[Edited at 2005-12-24 11:21]


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:54
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
teaching written English to 17 year old Nigerian Dec 25, 2005

This type of situation is actually not just a simple case of good or poor spelling. Here are the factors to take into consideration:

1. What are the languages spoken at home by her parents? It is very important to remember that there are 520 national languages in Nigeria (of which Yoruba and Igbo are the most common from what I recall) and English is the one that is learned at school, but not necessarily at home:
http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=NG

2. How long did she attend school? Was she educated in English? It may be the case that she spoke 1 or 2 languages at home in Nigeria, and then at the age of 5 or 6, she started learning English at school. But as she is 17 years old, and she has been living in Italy for 10 years, then she probably only went to school in Nigeria in English for 1-2 years. That is hardly enough time to reinforce written grammar and spelling skills for a child.

3. The literacy rate in Nigeria is only around 50%. See the Ethnologue link provided above.

4. She has been primarily educated in Italy. So she most likely writes fine in Italian. My guess is that she has been just "speaking" in English with her parent(s) (are they native English speakers? or educated speakers of English in the Nigerian educational system?) in Italy for the past 10 years, but has never "learned" to read and write in English beyond 1-2 years of it at a very young age.

5. Read the following post:
http://www.proz.com/post/227654#227654

6. Then read an article that I wrote which describes trying to use language technologies for a similar low literacy skill context:

Lexical Variation in Haitian Creole and Orthographic Issues for Machine Translation (MT) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Applications
http://www.geocities.com/jeffallenpubs/amta98-allen-final.htm

summary: This article shows several sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic variables that are pertinent to an adequate linguistic analysis of Haitian Creole in order to resolve issues in the development of natural language processing (NLP) systems (including machine translation, speech recognition and optical character recognition) for this language.

7. There are many related articles on this topic at my Creole languages site at:
http://www.geocities.com/creolelangs/

Hope that helps.

Jeff
==========================
Jeff Allen
http://jeffallen.chez.tiscali.fr/about-jeffallen.htm


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spelling lessons on the web Jan 1, 2006

Hi!
there are many spelling pages online that could help her learn:)
a page she can go to is
http://www.splashesfromtheriver.com/spelling
a lot of esl here too!
http://www.google.com
how old is your student?
reading a newspaper may be good with a dictionary
I am a young student and love learning!


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Alessandro Cattelan
Italy
Local time: 01:54
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Jan 1, 2006

Thank you all for your great tips. I now have quite a lot of material to work on to help my student improve her spelling abilities.

Thank you again and a happy hew year to all!

Ale.


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 17:54
French to English
+ ...
a little late but these may help Jan 14, 2006

Frequently Misspelled Words
www3.wcu.edu/%7Emkiser/misspell.html
This list of the most frequently misspelled words in English

Guide to American English Spelling
www.iss.stthomas.edu/studyguides/spelling.htm
Study guides and strategies for American English Spelling

How Well Can You Spell?
www.encarta.msn.com/quiz/quiz.asp?QuizID=36
Test your spelling skills with a quiz.

Musical Spelling Rules
www.gardenofpraise.com/spell1.htm
Learning the spelling rule about doubling the final consonant when adding suffixes to English words. Children's songs as a teaching aid. Spelling practice.

Purdue University has a fantastic website - that I suggest for anyone who has any questions about English grammar.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_spelhomo.html
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/

good luck


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