When I talk with students of any age about how English spelling works, I introduce them to the term <grapheme>. I also talk with them about letters, but letters are not the same as graphemes. English words are spelled with graphemes, not letters. A grapheme is a unit consisting of one, two or three letters. A grapheme signals or represents a phoneme. Here are some examples … More Terminology: Graphemes and Letters
One of the concepts that you will hear over and over in the literacy world is the notion that “print represents speech,” and that the only research-based approach to teaching reading and spelling is to start with the systematic study of phonemes — the segments in spoken language that are distinctive for meaning (often referred … More Doesn’t Print Represent Speech?
You’ve probably seen a misspelling like *<enuf> for <enough> and have seen someone write that * <enuf> is a phonetic spelling. That is a misnomer, because English spelling is not phonetic. Writing systems are phonological — they represent meaning to people who already know and speak the language. But phonetics can be a useful aspect of language to … More Terminology: Phones and Phonetics
Most systematic literacy instruction is built on the idea that phonemic awareness is the foundation for reading proficiency. If we’re going to even consider that idea, we need to understand the term “phonemic awareness” accurately. Phonemic awareness, as it is used in the education world, refers to the notion that students need to be aware … More Terminology: Phonemes and Phonology
Let’s talk about the terms connotation and denotation. For a long time, I found it very difficult to remember which one was which. That was because I was trying to hang my understanding of their meaning on their pronunciation. But starting with pronunciation did nothing for my understanding; I had things exactly backwards in terms of the … More Denotation and Connotation
Morphology is the organizing principle for all English spelling. If we want to understand how to make sense of every single word in English, we need to start by studying morphology, deeply and accurately, along with etymology and phonology. Read more about phonology here. So let’s talk about terms that are critical to understand when studying morphology. … More Terminology: Morphemes and Morphology
How does English spelling work? It’s complex but completely regular and understandable. This isn’t what you normally hear about spelling, but it’s true. Here are some facts about English spelling: 1. There are no irregular words in English. 2. The spelling of every English word makes perfect sense and can be understood (but not every … More How does English spelling work?