chapter  7
What spelling errors have to tell about vocabulary learning
ByRUTH H. BAHR, ELAINE R. SILLIMAN, VIRGINIA BERNINGER
Pages 22

For almost 100 years concern has been expressed about the quality of spelling assessment and instruction in the United States. Spelling was the topic of the earliest application of the scientific method to education. In a large-scale study that included schools throughout the United States, Rice (1913) evaluated the optimal instructional time for spelling instruction and found that children who received 15 minutes of weekly spelling instruction achieved significantly higher spelling test scores than those drilled for an hour or more a week. The benefits of ‘more’ may be offset by the mind’s habituation, that is, the failure to continue to respond to repetitive practice. ‘Less’ may result in more efficient spelling learning, but the nature of the spelling instruction also matters. In almost 100 years, minimal progress has taken place in the understanding of

spelling as a language-based function. This linguistic activity serves as the representational support system for both reading and writing. For example, after students reach a certain level of proficiency in phonological awareness, they may access written spellings from memory while performing phonemic awareness tasks. That is why novel pseudowords not represented in memory are used to assess phonemic awareness.