Learning to Spell: Research, Theory, and Practice across Languages

By Charles A. Perfetti; Laurence Rieben et al. | Go to book overview
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here. I have shown that reading and spelling processes are very closely related in skilled readers and spellers. However, this should not be construed to mean that we can leave the acquisition of spelling skill to the work of reading instruction and practice. This is because the memory requirements for spelling English words accurately exceed the memory requirements for reading words accurately. Moreover, acquiring knowledge of the alphabetic system is central to development and should fall within the province of spelling instruction. It is unlikely that as students learn to read more and more words, they also necessarily acquire more advanced levels of alphabetic knowledge. In addition, teaching students to read without also teaching them to spell may result in reading and spelling skills that are less closely related, a condition characterizing poor readers and spellers. It is clear that students need explicit spelling instruction as well as explicit reading instruction. According to my theory, the key to effective instruction is integration, that is, fostering close articulation among reading and writing knowledge sources and processes so that their acquisition is mutually facilitative and reciprocal. There is no getting around it by subordinating spelling to the job of computer spell-checkers. Poor spellers do not develop into skilled readers. Spelling instruction must remain an important goal of teachers and schools.


Ball W., & Blachman B. ( 1991). "Does phoneme segmentation training in kindergarten make a difference in early word recognition and developmental spelling?" Reading Research Quarterly, 26, 49-66.

Becker W., Dixon R., & Anderson-Inman L. ( 1980). Morphographic and root word analysis of 26,000 high frequency words. Eugene, OR: University of Oregon College of Education.

Beers J., & Henderson E. ( 1977). "A study of developing orthographic concepts among first graders". Research in the teaching of English, 2, 133-148.

Bowey J., & Hansen J. ( 1994). "The development of orthographic rimes as units of word recognition". Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 58, 465-488.

Bradley L., & Bryant P. ( 1979). "The independence of reading and spelling in backward and normal readers". Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 21, 504-514.

Bradley L., & Bryant P. ( 1985). Rhyme and reason in reading and spelling. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Brown A. ( 1988). "Encountering misspellings and spelling performance: Why wrong isn't right". Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 488-494.

Bruck M., & Waters G. ( 1990). "An analysis of the component spelling and reading skills of good readers-good spellers, good readers-poor spellers, and poor readers-poor spellers", in T. Carr & B. Levy (Eds.), Reading and its development (pp. 161-206). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Byrne B. ( 1992). "Studies in the acquisition procedure for reading: Rationale, hypotheses and data". In P. Gough, L. Ehri, & R. Treiman (Eds.), Reading acquisition (pp. 1-34). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Eribaum Associates.


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Learning to Spell: Research, Theory, and Practice across Languages
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