Monday Grammar & Teacher Journal

In Grammar on October 27, 2009 at 4:55 am

stack of books SPELLING

Spanish is my second language. I grew up in the middle of the country, and there weren’t many native speakers of Spanish, so as I learned Spanish, I learned from my American (English-speaking) teacher and from textbooks. I read in Spanish. I wrote in Spanish. I struggled in Spanish! Although we spoke and listened to Spanish in class, I never really heard Spanish. I learned mostly through reading and writing. The result is that while my grasp of Spanish grammar was okay, my ability to speak and listen to Spanish never really developed. If you learned English in similar circumstances, you might struggle with the courage to speak and understand spoken English.

Sometimes, though, language learners learn first by speaking and listening to English. Students who learn this way often speak and listen clearly and have a strong instinctive sense of grammar, like a native speaker would. If the speaking and listening isn’t combined with exposure to written, English, though, there can be challenges with spelling. Often, students who learn English only through speech will sound words out. This makes a lot of sense. The problem is that much of written English and spelling doesn’t make sense.

If spelling is a big challenge for you, the solution is to listen and read along as someone reads out loud. This way, you’ll be able to put together the sounds of the words with the spelling. Thankfully, there are tools that can help with this. You can get audiobooks (either downloaded from a website like Audible.com or through your local library, for free). Get an unabridged version of the audiobook — and also get a written copy. When you read, listen to the book at the same time. This will help train your eyes and ears to work together.


This week, I taught a little workshop at my school on study skills. I talked with students about keeping a calendar, staying organized, beating procrastination, and using strategies when reading tough material. Study skills are one of my favorite topics to talk about with students, because it deals with the phyical realities of everyday life. I love learning about where and how students study (with friends? in a library?), and I love hearing about how students keep information close at hand for classes. These details, I think, can have a pretty big effect on the workload you’re able to tackle, your stress levels, and the quality of your work.



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