How not to teach spelling

“Familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.”

― Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow


If you allow a child to spell ‘he’ as ‘hee’ or ‘they’ as ‘thay’, they’re going to practise misspelling these words.  They’ll become so familiar with their invented spellings that they may struggle to unlearn the inaccurate sound-spelling correspondences.  I use ‘invented spelling’ because the notion of ‘phonetically plausible’ spelling is flawed.Read More »

Ignorance is Bliss


If you’re reading this, you know your phonics; you’ve simply achieved ignorance in your expertise. Stay with me.

To ‘know your phonics’ is to have developed your skills in segmenting, blending and phoneme manipulation, and to know the code (the spellings of the 44 sounds that make up the English language)*. So, again, if you’re reading this you know your phonics. However, you may not necessarily know how to teach phonics (yet).

*(FYI: if you can speak, you know your sounds; if you can spell, you know the code.) 
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The ‘V’ in CVCC


When I’m providing phonics INSET at school or running Sounds~Write courses, I am often asked: ‘how can I improve my knowledge of the code?’

The code consists of approximately 175 spellings that represent the 44 or so sounds in the English language. As expert readers who read and spell with automaticity, it is often difficult to place ourselves back in the shoes of an early-reader. However, it’s worth participating in encoding activities to remind ourselves what this feels like.

On this blog post you will find the vowel sounds and their spellings. Read each word, segment that word orally, then underline the spellings in each word.

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