Question and Answer: Spelling Problems
My son, who is 10, has a problem with spelling. He reads very well and has been in a gifted class since the first grade at school. However, he spells words as they sound to him. I am concerned that he is going to encounter a lot of problems when he hits high school and then on to college. What do you suggest?
The ability to spell correctly is one of the fundamentals that will never cease to be important. Not only can spelling difficulties cause problems at school; the ability to spell is nearly essential for adult employment.
The importance of a good spelling ability in the work place was indicated by a survey of 1500 employers and employees, conducted by Office Angels, UK's leading secretarial and office support recruitment consultancy. This survey revealed that a full 84% of employers believe that the value of even the most excellent work can be debased by sloppy spelling and grammar. It further showed that 77% of employers regard a high degree of literacy as an essential skill, and that employees who demonstrate attention to detail are more likely to be on the fast track to promotion. Work peppered with sloppy spelling and grammar left 20% of employers fuming, while 53% perceived the employee as lazy and unprofessional. The same percentage of managers — 53% — admitted that they would not read any further once they had spotted literacy errors.
What Causes Spelling Problems?
Successful intervention is dependent on finding the cause or causes of a problem. A disease such as scurvy claimed the lives of thousands of seamen during their long sea voyages. The disease was cured fairly quickly once the cause was discovered, viz. a vitamin C deficiency. A viable point of departure in this case would thus be to ask the question, "What causes spelling problems?"
To understand the cause of spelling problems it is important to take note of the fact that learning is a stratified process. One has to learn to count before it becomes possible to learn to add and subtract. Suppose one tried to teach a child, who had not learned to count yet, to add and subtract. This would be quite impossible and no amount of effort would ever succeed in teaching the child these skills. In the same way, there are also certain skills and knowledge that a child must have acquired first, before it becomes possible for him to benefit from a course in spelling.
Mrs. Adams in New Mexico used Audiblox for her daughter, who had a severe spelling problem. Audiblox is a system of cognitive exercises, aimed at developing and automatizing the foundational skills that are required in reading, as well as in spelling. Mrs. Adams wrote:
"I feel as if part of my daughter's mind was trapped, and Audiblox set her free.
"She's always had some difficulty with language and has had trouble 'processing' information. She would be classified as dyslexic, although the trouble is not limited to reading. She learned to read after three tear-filled years — I thought our troubles were over! However, she could not spell at ALL, not the simplest words, and could not seem to grasp how anyone could ever learn how. Also, her handwriting/printing was unrecognizable as such. It was as if she would forget in the middle of the letter how to make it, then trail off into a scribble. Also, she has had a great deal of trouble with math concepts.
"We began using Audiblox (spelling program) 6 months ago, and the results have been just stunning. Within a month, she was able to remember how to spell a few words, and then just like a baby learning to talk, she began to experience a rapid snowball effect. A few months after we began using Audiblox, she said as we were driving around on errands — 'Mom, I think I know how to spell library.' And she did! And this was not an isolated moment, only the first. She is now almost an intuitive speller. Really, it's a miracle. Six months ago, her spelling tested at a Kindergarten level, and is now at a 6th grade level. This is just still so amazing to all of us who have struggled with her.
"Other benefits of using Audiblox have been her confidence level — right away she felt successful with the blocks. Also, her ability to use language in general has improved greatly — she speaks more expressively, and she's beginning to grasp punctuation. Her ability to focus on and comprehend new ideas in math has improved too. Her handwriting has not changed much, but I am going to begin with the Audiblox handwriting program, and I am looking forward to the results!
"Audiblox was a shot in the dark for us when we were feeling desperate. I'm so grateful that we discovered this before our daughter spent more time failing unnecessarily."