Topic 10 – Spelling English language codes. Sound-spelling relationship. Proposals for the teaching of writing code. Applications spelling in written productions.

Topic 10 – Spelling English language codes. Sound-spelling relationship. Proposals for the teaching of writing code. Applications spelling in written productions.


To begin with this topic, let us have a look at what orthography means. The orthography of a language is the set of symbols used to write a language, as well as the set of rules describing how to write correctly, including spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.

Orthography includes the writing system of a language. English, for example, has an alphabet of 26 letters for both consonants and vowels, but no glyph for stress. However, each English letter may represent more than one sound, and each English sound (phoneme) may be written by more that one letter. That means there is no one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds. In addition, combinations of letters called digraphs, such as /th/, represent single sounds in English orthography. Other languages which use the same alphabet as English may not use the same diagraphs.

Orthographic codes of the English language

English orthography has more complicated rules than many other spelling systems and contains many inconsistencies between spelling and pronunciation, necessitating memorization for anyone learning to read or write English. As American English tends to adapt spelling to pronunciation, there can be found different spelling in some words of common usage like:

Britiish English

American English











In the next point we are going to treat spelling rules, letter-sound correspondence, punctuation rules and capitalization.

Spelling rules

Double final consonants

§ The final consonant of a word is often doubled when adding –ed, -ing, -er, -est in the following cases:

§ Final b, d, g, l, m, n, p, r and t at the end of words: big-bigger, sad-sadder

§ Final letters if the is a pattern consonant-vowel-consonant at the end of a word. For example, travel-travelling

§ Words of more than one syllable have their consonants doubled only when the final syllable is stressed: begin-beginning but open-opening

§ When the words have more than one syllable and end in British English always doubles the /l/, even in the case of unstressed syllables. In American English, on the other hand, the /l/ is not doubled when the syllable is unstressed

ü British English-travelled

ü American English-traveled

/I/ before /E/

Write I before E Except after C (the same rule is applied when it sounds like /A/, relief, believe, field, receive, ceiling, sleight, eight.


Plurals of nouns can be created in the following ways:

§ You add an /s/ to form the plural of most words, elephant-elephants

§ For words that end in a “hissing” sound (-s, -z,–x, -ch, -sh) you add /es/ to form the plural, box-boxes, church-churches.

§ If the word ends in a vowel plus /y/ you add /s/ to the word, tray-trays; key- keys.

§ If the word ends in a consonant plus /Y, you change the /y/ into /ie/ and add an /s/ to form the plural: enemy-enemies, baby-babies.

§ For words that end in /is/, you change the /is/ ti /es/ ti make the plural form: synopsis-synopses, thesis-theses.

§ Some words that end in /f/ or /fe/ have plurals that end in /ves/, knife-knieves.

§ The plurals of words ending in –o are formed by either adding /s/ or by adding /es/. There are two helpful rules:

ü All words that end in a vowel plus /o/ have plurals that end in just /s/: stereo-stereos, studio-studios

ü All musical terms endin in /o/ have plurals ending in just /s/: piano-pianos, cello-celllos.

Final –e

You keep the final /e/ of the root word before adding a suffix beginning with a consonant (-ment, -ness, -less, -ful): commencement, pronouncement, etc.

Words ending in /ce/ and /ge/

To retain the soft sound of the c (s sound) and of the /g/ (j sound): replace-replaceable, peace-peaceable, arrange-arrangement

Final /e/ + ing

Words ending in two vowels (a vowel+final /e/) retain the final vowel /e/ before adding a suffix: see/seable; shoe/shoeing; canoe/canoeing

Final /c/

For words ending in /c/ you insert /k/ before adding –ing or /y/: picnic-picnicking: traffic-trafficking.

Letter-sound correspondences

It has to be kept in mind that pronunciation will vary slightily according to the dialect used, if there are any doubts, the IPA should be consulted.

Punctuation rules

Punctuation indicates the structure and organization of writing, as well as intonation and pauses to be observed when reading it aloud. In the following, we are going to summarize the most important aspects of English punctuation.

Full stop is used to end a complete sentence

Comma, there are a number of different uses for a comma in English. Commas are used to separate a list of items or phrases, also to introduce a direct quote, separate oppositives or to separate two independent clauses that are connected by a conjunction such as ‘but’.

Question mark: Is used at the end of a question: Where do you live?

Exclamation mark: The exclamation mark is used is used at the end of a sentence to indicate great surprise. It is also used for emphasis: That meal was fantastic!

Semicolon. It is used to separate two independent clauses or to separate groups of words that are themselves separated by commas.

Colon can be used to provide additional details and explanations and to introduce a direct quote, although a comma can also be used in this case.


In English, capital letters are used as the first letter of a sentence or a proper noun and for initials or abbreviations.

Relation sound-graphy

(or) horse

(oor) door

(p) pill

(m) mine

We are not going to present all the possible relations sound-graphy as this would be exhausting. We will give a few examples of short vowels long vowels and consonants:

(a) In village,

(ai) fountain

(ay) in Monday

(o) women

Proposals for the didactic of the written code

As well as in the native language, in the foreign language we must teach written expression after having taught oral language. But that does not mean that students may not express themselves by writing until they manage oral language perfectly. The practice of written language will help students to reinforce what has been learnt orally before.

We can distinguish three stages in the written language: controlled practice stage, guided production stage and free production stage.

Controlled practice stage

The pupil mainly writes a certain amount of linguistic material he/she has learnt orally beforehand. An activity to do with ours students to practice this stage would be asking students to order scrambled sentences.

Guided production stage

In this stage we want the pupils to choose linguistic elements with the help of the teacher’s orientations. For this purpose we can use a reading or a listening exercise and the students can be asked to write their own version of the text without copying structures from the model given.

A part from reinforcing the language learnt, we should show our students to communicate by writing. For this aim we will first treat the letter or e-mail using models as examples so we can show students typical expressions as well as the distribution of the different elements like addressee and sender, the date and the initial and final greeting. It will be also important to show students the different kind of letters/emails; formal, informal. Following the example given, the pupils will have to write a similar letter exposing their own ideas.

Free production stage

At this stage the students have the opportunity to write about a topic with minimal help from the teacher. Maybe this task will be too difficult for our young students who usually do not feel able to express ideas which can be used later for free production. Pupils often feel little motivated to carry out written exercises as they do not see their immediate utility so it is important to use interesting topics for our pupils. We can also use ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) to make written tasks more interesting and communicative

Application of orthography to written production

As far as application of written production in the different cycles of Primary Education is concerned, we must keep in mind that:

§ In stages 1 and 2 the pupils will ardly ever be asked to write. Nonetheless, they will have to recognize written words or expression.

§ In stage 3 and 4 pupils often feel enthusiastic about writing because it is now when they manage the written code with more fluency

§ In stage 5 and it will be getting difficult to motivate our students to write as they consider all written exercise hard work

As far as presentation of written work is concerned, teachers should insist on neatness and organization right from the beginning. It is important to take student’s notebooks home from time to time and correct spelling mistakes, it is a good idea to include the marks given for the notebook in the final evaluation because students get aware that not only the result obtained in exams count, but also their daily effort.

As far as written mistakes there are three different approaches to correcting written work:

Correct each mistake

Show your general impression when marking

Underline mistakes and give clues to the type of mistakes made and then let students correct the work themselves. For example: T=Tense, P= punctuation, SP=spelling)

Written activities should fulfill the following requirements so that pupils feel attracted by them and do not get bored.

§ They should make pupils think

§ They should solve some kind of problem

§ They should be enjoyable

§ They should entertain

§ They should communicate something

§ They should supply direct utility


To conclude we are going to examine what the curriculum mentions as far as the contents set “production of written texts: expression and interaction”, Performance is concerned. (Royal Decre 126/2014 which establishes the basic curriculum of Primary Education.

§ Express messages clearly adusting models and formulas of each kind of text

§ Readjust the task after having valued the difficulties and the available resources

§ Rely on previous knowledge and take maximum advantage of it.

The correct application of the orthographic code is also necessary to acquire the Key Competence “linguistic competence”.