Bring spelling, dictation back


It is important in exposing students to new words and improving vocabulary

SPELLING and dictation exercises should be revived in primary and secondary schools in a more vibrant and inclusive manner.

In the 1960s and 1970s when English Language was the medium of instruction in schools, each student used to have a Spelling & Dictation exercise book exclusively used by English teachers to give spelling and dictation exercises daily before the lesson.

English language teachers used to spend about 10 minutes to conduct the Spelling and Dictation activity before every English lesson. At the end of the activity, the teacher will correct them and the students were expected to do corrections for the words spelt wrongly.

The spelling exercise is important because it exposes students to new words and improves their vocabulary.

Teachers can select words from the comprehension texts in text books or from short stories in the literature component as sources for the spelling exercise.

Teachers can test students on five new words a day in their spelling exercise. In a week the students will learn 25 new words.

Learning a new word involves knowing the spelling of the word, the meaning, pronunciation, part of speech of the word and usage in a sentence.

Students should be tested regularly on their spelling because these are the most common errors they make in their writing.

Primary and secondary schools should seriously consider incorporating spelling as part of their curricular competitions at the school, district and state levels in the future.

The dictation exercise is important because it helps the students in their listening and writing. In a dictation exercise, the teacher will select a short paragraph from a text or a story and read it aloud while students write the text while listening to the teacher.

The dictation exercise improves students’ use of punctuation in their writing.

The dictation exercise also exposes students to model writing pieces. Spelling and dictation exercises help students to identify and distinguish the correct contextual use of a particular word in a sentence.

Many students have problems in their writing with words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meaning.

For example, weather – whether, buy- by- bye, too-two-to, stationary-stationery. Students have problems distinguishing between these words with the same sounds. By using these words in sentences and in context, students learn the correct usage of the words.

Reading is the only proven way to improve in any language. Through reading one will be exposed to the vocabulary and the intricate nuances of the language.

One way to inculcate and cultivate the reading habit is by having spelling bee competitions. This will motivate and challenge the children to read widely to get to know many new words.

The writing skill is the most difficult of the language skills for a student to acquire.

SAMUEL YESUIAH

Seremban