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NIFL-ASSESSMENT 2005: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:867] RE: spelling - I'm

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From: Katrina Hinson (
Date: Thu Jan 20 2005 - 07:19:24 EST

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:867] RE: spelling - I'm shocked!
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I haven't read the whole exchange yet, but I'm actually surprised there
is so LITTLE emphasis on good spelling. Spelling well is an integral
part of good written communication, and I hate to hear the excuse about
"spell check" on computers.  I've taugh ABE, ESL, AHS and GED classes
and the majority of my students have awful spelling skills.   Not only
that, teaching them to use a  dictionary is like introducing them to a
foreign language, but is absolutely necessary so that they can learn to
correct their spelling errors. However, from my own experience, that's
not the first place to begin;  I actually have to begin with the common
spelling "rules" for lack of a better word, some of which my students
haven't heard.

I have 2 children of my own in public schools here in my state, one in
the 7th and one in the 5th and I can honestly say that my 5th grader
gets more "spelling" practice than my 7th and even then, I end up having
to correct their spelling errors when they write and when they speak. I
keep having to tell my 12 year old that there is no such word as
"tooken" because she often inserts it into her conversation when she
really means "taken"

Spelling, as well as good foundational grammar skills, are often NOT
taught or emphasized in schools any longer, not just in an ABE classroom
but also in a 'traditional' classroom. The focus, at least from where I
sit, is all about testing  and information for their test. IT may
involve a smattering of spelling or grammar but by no means is it
enough. That's obvious to see when employers in the US often complain
that their employees cannot write or communicate well in the written
form. Perhaps I see this is as a huge "lack" in classrooms becuase of my
background in English - perhaps because I see everyday the way my
students struggle to graps the very basic rudiments of good spelling 
and grammar so that when they write a letter to their own children's
teachers, those letters show someone who is educated versus someone who
can be considered uneducated. I see students struggle to write simple
sentences because every word they write, they are spelling phonetically
instead of correctly which becomes a barrier that hinders them from

I'd say there isn't enough emphasis on spelling and that it doesn't
start in the ABE classroom but way before they get to us. I think that's
one reason it's very important to identify just what students do know in
terms of spelling mechanics. I also think it's a shame that there isn't
more adult oriented vocabulary material. There is a ton available for
ESL students but I have a really hard time finding material that I can
use with my GED/ABE students that is appropriate for them.   I think the
spelling is important, along with the grammar, and both are important
components of understanding just where some adult students are in their
learning process.


Katrina Hinson

>>> 01/20/05 3:09 AM >>>
Hi Karen and everyone,

Pardon! But I'm so surprised that there seems to be so much emphasis on
spelling in some of the materials in the diagnostics that I've seen.  In
another email, you also explained a tool or process that uses incorrect
spellings as a diagnostic, but that those misspelled words make their
way into the classroom teaching.  

I feel like we do very little spelling work here in the U.S. in ABE.  I
have worked a lot on spelling when the students don't know how to write
(we would do invented spelling and stuff like that, and play spelling
games).  Also, at high levels I would always note where there were
mistakes but it was up to the student to find the correction.

How about others here in the U.S. and anyplace else in the world?  I may
be way out of the spelling loop and so I'd love to hear from others.

marie cora
Moderator, NIFL Assessment Discussion List, and 
Coordinator/Developer LINCS Assessment Special Collection at

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of
Sent: Sunday, January 16, 2005 11:28 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:861] RE: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:848] Re:  Skills
Discussion fro

Here are some examples from the initial assessment. Well over half the
marks are for spelling, and a level is assigned on the basis of a cut

Circle the correct spelling to answer questions 63-66

Be careful, the _________ is boiling hot (ketle kettel kettle kettal)

The child fell in a huge (puddel puddle pudel pudle)

(No prizes for guessing which of these items comes from a 'family'
version for parents and carers!!)

One word in each sentence is spelled incorrectly.  Write the correct
spelling of the word in the box to answer questions 67-72

69 She had to take both children shoping

71  The sond of the school bus outside woke him up.

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