14th July 2000 at 01:00
UNDERSTANDING SPELLING. By Olivia O'Sullivan and Anne Thomas. Centre for Language in Primary Education, pound;13.95.

The Centre for Language in Primary Education is well known for the excellence of its publications. They are readable and informative, and Understanding Spelling is no exception.

This book is the outcome of a three-year study of children's spelling in three London schools, which focused on how children learn to spell and the ways teachers can support their progress. Seven carefully planned chapters guide the reader through the spelling process, the stages of spelling development and the effective teaching and monitoring of spelling. The results of the case studies are perceptively discussed, which will enable teachers to consider positively the spelling problems of children in their classes.

It is nt surprising that, in the final chaper, the authors find success in spelling to be a strange phenomenon and that theories about how to teach it still abound. I was particularly interested in their ideas concerning the problem of good readers who were poor spellers. While there are obvious links between spelling and reading, there are also significant differences. The authors are right to point out that reading is not a process that demands attention to every letter or word to gain meaning, whereas spelling does demand attention to each letter as well as sequences of letters in words.

This book should be essential reading for all NQTs, literacy co-ordinators and teachers who are concerned about the spelling attainment of children in their classrooms.

Charles Cripps is a lecturer and language consultant

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