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.

In order to speak a language efficiently we must master its grammar and its rules of use. Linguistics is the science which deals with the study of the language and it can be divided into 5 main levels described above.

1) Phonetics, Phonology This is the level of sounds. One must distinguish here between the set of possible human sounds, which constitutes the area of phonetics proper, and the set of system sounds used in a given human language, which constitutes the area of phonology.

2) Morphology This is the level of words and endings, it refers to the analysis of minimal forms in language which are, however, themselves comprised of sounds and which are used to construct words which have either a grammatical or a lexical function. within the same level we must take into account Lexicology. Lexicology is concerned with the study of the lexicon from a formal point of view and is thus closely linked to (derivational) morphology.

3) Syntax This is the level of sentences. It is concerned with the meanings of words in combination with each other to form phrases or sentences.

Language typology attempts to classify languages according to high-order principles of morphology and syntax and to make sets of generalisations across different languages irrespective of their genetic affiliations, i.e. of what language family they belong to.

4) Semantics This is the area of meaning.

5) Pragmatics The concern here is with the use of language in specific situations. The meaning of sentences need not be the same in an abstract form and in practical use. In the latter case one speaks of utterance meaning. The area of pragmatics relies strongly for its analyses on the notion of speech act which is concerned with the actual performance of language. This involves the notion of proposition – roughly the content of a sentence – and the intent and effect of an utterance.

In this unit we will analyze orthography which is directly related to the first level of language analysis and the written skills in our English classes. Orthography is a discipline concerned with the study of written systems. It studies the system of writing conventions used to represent spoken English into written form, that allows readers to connect spelling to sound and to meaning. Furthermore, orthographers not only study spelling, but also examine punctuation, capitalization and other norms of writing.

Like orthography of most world language, English has a broad degree of standardization. However, unlike most European languages, there are multiple pronunciations depending on their phonemes position in a word and in its context. There are two ways of study the English spelling.

1. Diachronic study: ( time).

a. British alphabet was devised by missionaries in britain who used Irish forms of the Latin alphabet. It had 27 graphemes to cope with nearly 40 phonemes.

b. 1060- norman conquest, the French trained scribes who introduced new orthographic conventions ( new graphemes ( k,g).

c. Great vowel shift in 15thc, main changes were the long vowels became diphthongs and short vowels underwent an increase of tongue height.

d. 15 th thanks to the printing process English had to adapt to foreign spelling norms

e. Nowadays the result is a system – amalgam of different traditions. the system is basically phonemic but phonemes are represented by letter patterns ( Diagraphs) and single letters.

2. Synchronic Study: Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, the most recognized variations are British and American spelling, in which we will base our study.

RP ( received pronunciation to British) and GA ( General American). There are several differences between these two pronunciation models, due to time restrictions we are going to analyse just a few worth of study in primary education stage.

● -RE: BrE re AmE er : Theatre vs theater

● – OUR : BrE our AmE ur : Colour vs Color

● -ISE : BrE ixe AmE ise: Organize vs organise

● -Ogue: BrE ogue AmE og : monologue vs monolog

● Vowel +L: BrE double AmE doesn’t : Travelled vs traveled

Now we are going to go on the next point, which deals with spelling codes. I am going to talk about the main orthographic rules in English, but of course, there are so many that it would be impossible to remember each one of them.


Because it is an alphabetic language, English uses written symbols that are closely related to its phonological system. The word “phonological” means “the logic of the sounds”. The phonological system of a language is the system of phonemes we use to encode and decode information when speaking and listening to each other talk. Humans are usually quite good at learning this phonological system for spoken communication without much explicit instruction. Most babies eventually develop the ability to understand and speak the language without taking lessons in English, however learning to understand how written English works requires explicit teaching. This is because learning to read and write is not natural – we haven’t been reading and writing for long enough to have evolved specific brain structures solely responsible for reading and writing. In fact, our ability to read and write depends heavily on our ability to process spoken language.


This unit is about English orthography, how it changes depending on the morphological functions of words. The main orthographical rules are:

  1. Capital letters: The initial letter of the following cases must be written in capital, Days, months and bank holidays, People first name and places, Mr, Miss, Mrs, Dr. Countries, places of origin and language. The first written word of tittles in books, films, places, etc, as well as the rest of initial except prepositions and articles.
  2. I will continue with plural formation. Plural is usually formed by adding –s to the singular. But there are some cases which must be named:

– When singular words end in –y and when preceded by a consonant will change to –i and will add –es. ( lady/ ladies). But –y when preceded by a vowel will just add –s. ( boy/ boys)

– When singular words end in –ch, -sh, -s, -x, -z,-o, in plural formation will end in –es. ( church / churches). But ending in –o of foreign origin just adding –s.( piano/pianos)

– Among the words ending in –f, -fe there are three different solutions:

· there are twelve nouns which form their plural by changing –f , -fe to –ves. ( knife/knives)

· nouns such as scarf, wharf and hoof form their plural just adding

-s, or –ves indistinctively. ( scarfs/ sacarves).

· other words ending in –f, -fe form their plural just adding –s. (safe/safes).

– There are other nouns which form their plural by means of a vocalic change. ( man /men). (an exception, child/children).

– There are nouns which do not admit any plural feature. Animal species, (fish) and some which doesn´t follow the rules for several reasons, some words have only singular forms, (news, knowledge), Others always have plural form, ( police, glasses, clothes)

3. After having seen plural formation, we are going to look at duplication of final consonants. When we add the following endings: -ed, -ing, -er, -est, to a word in order to form compounds, the final consonant duplicates whenever it is –b, -d,

4. One more rule is –e in final position.

– We omit it when adding a suffix beginning with a vowel. ( write/ writing). This doesn’t happen when the word ends in –ee. ( disagree/ disagreeable).

– When a word ends in –ce and the suffix –ous is added then –e changes to –i. ( vice/ vicious).

– If a suffix beginning with a consonant is added, then –e is kept. ( hope / hopeful).

– Except in some words: true/ truly, argue/ argument.

5. Intonation and quotation marks: ? ! → only at the end. Inverted commas to refer to quotations.

6. apostrophe: to refer to an element that is missing ( I´m).

7. Pause marks:

Comma: separate in a list ,minor sentences, greetings.

semicolon: contrast between different items

Colon. the next belongs to a category expressed before.

full stop: to separate paragrpahs.

To follow with this topic we are going to analyse some proposals for the teaching of the written code. And also, orthographic applications in written productions.

We shall start this section by saying that the pupils to whom we are teaching the foreign language in the first year are likely to have problems when reading or writing their own mother tongue. Therefore, introducing them a new writing code may be confusing for them. We must also consider that in real life they write very little, even in their mother tongue, that is why we propose that the students should start by copying words.

Which serves as a starting- point for making this activity enjoyable or boring and monotonous.

– We can try to avoid it by giving them a card with drawing and card with words related to these drawings, they only have to combine the words with the drawings, by copying both in their notebook.

– We can also give them a strip of comics with the chosen words and the students will have to insert the words in the speaking bubbles of each comic. Matching pictures to speech bubbles.

– Another activity is called word machines, consisting of obtaining one word by means of two or more transformations of a previously given word. ( pin from den).

– We may also ask the students to group the words containing two or more equal letters in different order.

– We may give them groups of four or five words in which one of them is not correctly written and they will have to find one and tell why it is incorrect.

– Another rather successful game is called hangman, where we can eliminate as many elements as we think necessary according to the difficulty of the words for our student’s level. Similar to this game is the shark with stairs.

– We cam also use crosswords or word games focused on words about a particular topic. It is useful for warming up and relaxing activities.

– Another game is ‘I spy with my little eye’ which has endless possibilities of explotation. With good level, make sentences with mistakes and students have to correct them.

– The well-known game ‘noughts and crosses’ may be adapted to our orthographic needs.

– We find also very valuable the use of a dictionary. It is convenient to have a dictionary in the class. Tasks and games in groups or pairs are particularly useful, that is, when the teacher plays the role of a facilitator. Another encouraging task for the students is to make their own dictionary where they can include the vocabulary already studied in class.

– In order to make the students aware of how difficult it is the relationship between sounds and letters we can also make colleges where to include drawings referred to a word which they know both the orthography and the pronunciation and then add a short clue referred to a different word which is pronounced the same and, however, is written differently.

After having studied some proposals to achieve orthographic rules in English, we have to deal with different aspects on teaching orthographic codes in English classroom.


At its most fundamental level, reading is the process of deriving meaning from the words on a page. For most children, learning to read is a matter of mapping new, visual representations of our language onto existing spoken representations of the language. Most (but not all) six-year-old children who are learning to read, for example, are able to tell you what they did on the weekend, who their best friends are and maybe even how to craft a pickaxe in Minecraft. Despite this skill with oral language, they are still learning how to read and spell simple words such as “spot” at school. In other words, for most children, learning to read is a process of learning to recognise visual representations of words they already know. Research suggests the most effective method of teaching oneself to recognise new words is to be able to decode (e.g. Share & Shalev, 2004).


An overwhelming body of research suggests that we should teach kids to read through phonics. Teaching phonics involves explicitly and systematically teaching children to understand how all the phonemes of our language are represented by letters – in other words, teaching phonics is synonymous with teaching students how to decode and encode written language. Teaching phonics effectively teaches kids to teach themselves. It helps students to become fluent readers who understand what they read and have excellent strategies for decoding unfamiliar words. It also helps students become proficient spellers who have excellent strategies for encoding words when writing. Three national inquiries into the teaching of reading (conducted in the US, UK and Australia) have recommended that all students who are learning to read be taught using a synthetic phonics approach, which has strong scientific support and leads to greater gains compared with other approaches.

Nowadays the most accepted…… 4 skills… reading and writing….