Read and Spell Blog

How to improve spelling skills for learners of all ages

How to improve spelling skills

Spelling is one of those skills that a lot of people find challenging to master. This is particularly true if English isn’t your first language. One of the main reasons spelling is so hard to learn is that English is a highly irregular language. It has borrowed words from many other tongues and anglicized their spelling in an inconsistent way.

Spelling rules such as “i before e except after c” do exist in English, as in the words receive and receipt. But there are also plenty of exceptions to these rules, such as in species and science. Moreover, knowing a rule doesn’t always mean you can operationalize it in an automatic fashion when you need to write words quickly and accurately, for example during interviews, sales-meetings or timed assessments.

How to practice typing

How to practice typing

Typing is one of those skills that takes practice to learn. There’s never been an individual, the world’s fastest typists included, who sat down at a keyboard and immediately began typing.

The reason for this is the muscles in your hands and fingers need time to adjust to new movement patterns. That’s why it’s important to introduce a handful of keys at a time, and move on only once you’ve mastered them.

Depending on the program you use, you might start with the home row keys or focus on vowels and then consonants following a curriculum of English phonics. Some courses may have drills made up of nonsense letter combinations, and others, like Touch-type Read and Spell, might take a whole word approach, making the course easier to follow for people with learning differences.

The benefit of typing real words from the beginning is that once the movement patterns have been acquired, they are stored in muscle memory and become procedural knowledge. Procedural knowledge is something you know how to do automatically and don’t have to think about, like driving or riding a bike. Turning spelling into procedural knowledge can help individuals who have dyslexia because the letters and letter sequences are saved in memory as a pattern of key-strokes that the fingers type out automatically.

Dyslexia programs that can help adults

3 Dyslexia programs for adults

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect literacy skills in children and adults. This is because it makes it harder to break language down into its component sounds, which complicates the process of sounding words out and spelling them. It’s helpful not to think of dyslexia as an illness or a disability – despite it being called that in some countries - it’s just a different way of processing in the brain that can also impact on memory and organizational skills.

And while dyslexia can make some activities more challenging, such as reading and writing, dyslexic adults may also excel in other areas such as problem solving and creative pursuits. With the right support, including strategy training and accommodations in the classroom or workplace, every individual can achieve his or her full potential. That’s why it’s so important for adults with dyslexia to learn more about their options when it comes to choosing a literacy program, a trained tutor and/or the tools that can best support them.

What to do when you can't spell

Help! I can’t spell.

Everyone has difficulty with spelling from time to time. You might make a mistake when you use a word infrequently, or have trouble reporting a word’s spelling verbally when you’re put on the spot. These are common issues for a few reasons. One is that spelling is something we usually do in writing - delivering this information in another modality can be awkward. Two, spelling is information that we store in the brain as procedural knowledge.

This means it becomes automatic only after a person builds up extensive contact through repeat exposure to a word in reading and writing. You might have certain words you always mix up because you never learned the correct spelling, or because you wrote them incorrectly and now can’t tell the right from the wrong version. But some people struggle with spelling in a very different way.

For example, dyslexic individuals may put a word’s letters in the wrong order, miss out on a letter, or even add one that doesn’t belong. They often have difficulty spelling consistently, and can get a word right one day and not the next. This doesn’t mean they are “stupid” or “lazy,” it just means there’s something interrupting the encoding process by which words are split into their component sounds and those sounds are then mapped onto English letters.

Adult ADD Checklist of symptoms to look out for

An Adult ADD Checklist

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are commonly discussed in reference to school-age children, but some estimates suggest that up to 4% of the adult population also struggles with attention difficulties. The symptoms include difficulty focusing, impulsivity, forgetfulness, and sometimes periods of hyper-focus.

Individuals with attention difficulties may have trouble sleeping and staying organized. They can be prone to emotional outbursts and can feel overly flustered and anxious when under stress. Someone with an undiagnosed learning difficulty may struggle with a secret sense of shame, believing they are not as smart or as capable as their peers. Poor impulse control is also common. Attention difficulties are not something you grow out of, but many adults develop coping skills to help them get by.

how to help reluctant readers

Why are some kids reluctant readers?

Teachers and parents may be familiar with the term “reluctant reader.” It refers to a child or young-adult who isn’t engaged when it comes to reading. These are the kids who tend to put a book down as soon as it’s given to them or pass it back and forth between their hands without ever opening to a page.

When forced to read, reluctant readers often appear demotivated and disinterested. You may see them looking out the window or staring blankly down, as though they are unable to focus on the text in front of them. For some children reluctance to read is due to competing interests such as sports, arts, or another extracurricular activity. For others, it’s because reading is difficult and they associate it with frustration and strain.

A post for individuals wondering 'Am I dyslexic?'

Am I dyslexic?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect an individual’s ability to break words down into their component sounds. This, in turn, impacts on reading and spelling ability and may result in them needing extra time and/or classroom and workplace accommodations to achieve the same results as peers. However, dyslexia is not a measure of intelligence, it is just a different way of processing in the brain – and it is also associated with some positives!

For example, dyslexic individuals may possess keen analytical and problem-solving skills. They may have sophisticated spatial awareness, can be talented and creative artists, and have a knack for seeing the bigger picture. They may “think outside the box,” and be great team players. Estimates suggest up to 10% of the population has dyslexia and it is not uncommon for adults to suspect they are dyslexic, particularly if reading and writing have always been a challenge.

But like most specific learning differences, dyslexia exists on a spectrum and no two people will experience the same set or severity of symptoms. Having a diagnostic assessment can help you learn more about your strengths and weaknesses and which strategies and accommodations will most benefit you.

What is the touch typing method and how does it compare to hunt-and-peck

The touch typing method vs. two-finger typing

One of the main differences between the touch typing method of keyboarding and two-fingered typing is in how you allocate your attention while you work at the computer. When you type with two or more fingers, also known as the “hunt and peck” approach, your attention is split between visually scanning for keys, looking at the screen and/or looking at any additional materials you are reading or copying from.

Test for dyslexia

How do they test for dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language based specific learning difference that can impact on reading, writing and spelling skills. There are different approaches to testing, including online screening forms – such as the Lexercise or Beating Dyslexia tests – but these measures are only meant to provide guidance as to whether or not a more in-depth assessment is needed. Sometimes a teaching assessment will suffice, but a comprehensive evaluation of dyslexia is typically undertaken by a speech and language/pathologist, educational psychologist or trained expert and is diagnostic in nature to provide a clearer picture of how the dyslexia impacts on an individual’s ability to learn.

Most evaluations test phonemic awareness, ability to rapidly name objects and letters, decoding skills, fluency in reading, comprehension skills, and writing and spelling ability. Testing can sometimes extend to oral language skills, intelligence and checks for visual and hearing impairment, both of which can have a severe impact on language development. In certain cases a child may be referred for more testing, particularly if additional learning difficulties such as dysgraphia or ADHD are suspected.

Computer basics for adults to help at school and in the workplace

Computer basics for adults

For adults who lack familiarity with computers, life in the modern age can be a challenge. That’s because technology is involved in almost every aspect of our lives: we need it for work, school, keeping in touch, day-to-day task management, remote education and even online shopping.

Being able to use a word processor is required for students and working professionals because formal assignment and written reports must be typed. Referencing and research that used to be done in a library is now largely undertaken via online searches of the worldwide web and academic databases.

You need an email address to sign up for new services, make online purchases, apply for jobs and education programs, and communicate with friends and family. Even something as simple as locating a suitable local tradesman is more efficient when done through an online search vs. looking in the yellow pages.

And while tablets and smartphones account for a large portion of our daily technology use, computers are still an important tool.

Thankfully adult basic skills courses exist to help learners achieve the tech-fluency they need to feel more comfortable using computers and many local libraries and community centers offer free introductory programs too.

Learn more about adult dyslexia

Where to find help for adult dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect an individual’s ability to correctly identify and manipulate the sounds that make up spoken language. This in turn can negatively impact on reading and spelling skills.

Dyslexic adults are not less intelligent than other people, their brains simply process language in a different way. But because not everyone who has dyslexia is aware they are struggling with a specific learning difference, some individuals may believe they are stupid, not cut out for school, or are simply not skilled enough when it comes to reading and writing.

For dyslexic children and adults who don’t get the help they need, this can lead to feelings of low self-worth and a lack of confidence in the classroom or workplace. That’s why diagnosing dyslexia is an important first step, followed by seeking out support from local groups and national organizations, such as the British and American Dyslexia Associations.

There are different types of dyslexia and no two individuals will have exactly the same needs, but with access to the right accommodations and an effective strategy program, dyslexic adults can boost literacy skills, increase confidence and gain a better understanding of their own strengths and abilities.