Communications   spelling difficulties

It must be remembered that the journey to good spelling has many steps. Much of the work covered in early learning classes will have direct influence on the pupil’s ability to spell well.

From visual memory to sight vocabulary and from auditory skills to phonic awareness the mastery of each should be seen as a building block on the way to proficiency and confidence in spelling.

Teacher needs to appreciate the background to the individual’s spelling difficulties, whether it is because of short term memory recall or poor visual or auditory discrimination.
This knowledge should allow a better focus when attempting to tackle the difficulty.
Many Special Needs pupils will experience spelling as a significant difficulty.
Teacher should attempt to use a multimedia approach to spelling and include playground games, rhymes/songs, drills, phonic lessons, specific word games, homework assignments and Computer based programmes to tackle the deficiency in spelling.
There are excellent teacher resource books available including the following two;

SPELLING GAMES AND ACTIVITIES’ by Dorothy Smith [a NASEN publication]

Both of these suggest a variety of games aimed at particular areas of need and are very
specific in their focus and in what they attempt to achieve.
This is an area in which the pupil needs lots of encouragement and praise. Many pupils have a ‘thing’ about spelling and will only improve through patient and specific assistance.

[See publications above for details of various strategies and classroom practices to develop ‘spelling friendly’ activities].
‘Spelling should be fun’ must sound like a dream to the teacher confronted with a pupil who is overwhelmed by spelling inadequacies. Yet the challenge is to build up the confidence and chart out of staged path towards spelling competence.
Teacher may seek specific assistance / assessment from specialist, (psychologist, speech & language therapist) in order to identify the main areas of need.


‘Superspell’ by the 4MATION Company

Here is a great piece of software to assist the teacher working in the area of spelling difficulties.
‘Superspell’ contains an amazing amount of material, 160 word lists, 3 levels of difficulties Easy Medium Hard
Four related activities Word Memory, Word Find, Word Speed, Word Splash
Teacher control over specific areas;
3 letter words
2 consonant initial blends
3 consonant initial blends
Consonant digraphs
Prefixes / suffixes
100 commonly misspelt words
Verb endings
Unusual verb endings

Pupil’s names are entered in the ‘Create User List’ facility. The pupils must log in each time they use Superspell. A record of their progress can be seen at any time and a copy of same may be printed out. This record keeping is important is such a varied and widespread programme. Pupils should bring their Superspell folder with them to each computer session.
Print outs can be taken from the Word Find activity.
Word Lists and Progress Charts can be printed from all areas.

This is an excellent programme as it allows for detailed and well focussed remedial lessons across a wide range of word attack skills. It allows the pupil to work at an appropriate level and speed and gives lots of verbal feedback and encouragement to the pupil.
Teacher will need to spend some time becoming familiar with the workings of the programme before introducing it to the class or to an individual.