What do children teach us about the English language and spelling through their spelling errors?

We have all known children who are good readers but terrible spellers. What is puzzling is when they misspell words they seem to be looking at. Why do they do that? Their errors tell us how they process the words they spell in their heads. In a sense, their spelling errors serve as a window into their minds providing us with clues about what they understand or don’t understand about language, and how they process spelling. Being able to interpret those clues is the first step in being able to help them.

The following are some spelling errors that I would like you to play with.

First, can you decipher the correct words?

Next, try to figure out why they spelled the words the way they did.

ruff, thay,   anser, wrok,   hav,   ting, carater,   dun,  

ling, gose,  dong,  ai /ay, grilz, duz / dose,  masheen  

thout,   gong / gowing,   sience / siens, vacashun,  

sleev,   luv, parshul / parshel,  haws,   comeing

How did you do? Were you able to figure out the correct words? Now you can compare your answers with the words below. Now, take some moments to ponder the errors.

rough,   they, answer, work,   have, tying, character,   done 

lying, goes,   doing,   I, girls,   does,   machine

thought,   going,   science,  vacation 

sleeve,   love, partial,   house,   coming

Rather than go through the list one by one and give you a long lecture about what is going on, I will let you, the reader, process both lists and compare the errors with their correct spellings. See if you can begin to make sense of the errors.

When you are done, you can post any question that you may have and I will be glad to answer it.

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