Sample Assignment on Developing English Spelling in Primary Schools in Saudi Arabia

Literature Review

Literacy is the ability to write, read and to use written information in an appropriate way, in a different range of indexes (He & Wang, 2009). In other words, it is used in order to achieve an understanding and knowledge, moreover, to acquire and practice personal growth in a more effective way in the society. According to He & Wang, (2009) literacy also involves the identification of numbers and symbols and a mathematical sign within text i.e., identifying what is written becomes very easy for the children. They further add that literacy also includes the critical thinking and listening with writing and reading, and integration of speaking (He & Wang, 2009). Clearly, literacy involves several fields, not just the ability to read and write words. Effective literacy is dynamic and flexible, and purposeful and it continues to grow throughout the lifetime of individuals (Neuman & Dickinson, 2001). For example, when students write an article or essay, they simply apply the understanding and knowledge which they have learnt in order to spell the words. Neuman & Dickinson, (2001) are of the view that the objectives of spelling are the objectives of learning on its own that is to make some meaning, and to share the meaning with the readers in the way they may understand better.

Evidently, correct spelling helps the reader (Wedell & Alshumaimeri, 2014). The correct spellings are being determined with the help of language communities. Additionally, the correct spelling assists in providing writing credibility. In order to do communicate effectively when it comes to pronunciation and dialect, the writer needs to learn the correct spelling. For most of the students, learning the correct spelling is a difficult task as students simply try to write what they pronounce, yet, the grammar of spelling is quite more profound than this. In order to achieve that, they need to make sure that they have the right knowledge regarding the word spelling. Some of the current developments and advancements in technology have helped students to spell check their work, such as, Microsoft word. However, the need to understand the knowledge of word spell is still crucial. ( Rodríguez et al, 2012).

Several factors can affect whether a student is able to spell correctly or not, these factors include: the index in which the writing is being done, the objective of writing, the reader of the text, the development stage of the writer, and the development stage of the written text (Rodríguez et al, 2012). In the initial stages of their spelling and language development, writers may use some spellings that are equal to their conventional forms. They typically start moving from the approximate term to correct spelling. With the help of knowledge they have gained, they create the ways in order to deliver their messages and within time they understand how to use conventional forms of correct spelling. During all these practices, the duty of the teacher is to motivate and encourage the student regarding the pronunciation of correct words, and the teacher should make them learn the unfamiliar terms in an effective way (Shemesh & Waller, 2002). Although, there are 44 sounds for 26 letters of alphabets, but still the sound of many of the words are not the way they are actually spelt.

For Saudi kids, making the correct pronunciation is very difficult. It is because of their unavailability of the sounds in their language. The pronunciation of the English language is interference with their mother tongue. But it can be overcome when, English is taught by the experts of English language who may pronounce correct pronunciation and use it with kids. In this way, kids will learn to pronounce easily as there is less hindrance from mother tongue in the early age. It is a primary mission of every country to increase its literacy rate as each country is aware of the fact that education excellence and high literacy rate is a key element for the economic well-being and the development of a country. Due to this reason, every country, including Saudi Arabia is focusing on increasing its literacy rate and developing its educational system.

Understanding English spelling

According to Hyland, (2003), “Writers are required to comprehend the English spelling to spell precisely. The spelling of English is the mechanism which combines morphemic and phonetic patterns in order to build sense in writing. Comprehending the patterns that are phonetic allow writers to spell words effectively, which have foreseeable sound-letter correlation, such as mat”. Hyland further stresses that the patterns that are phonemes are littlest language’s unit which conveys meaning. Phonemes such as /b/, /t/ and /a/ together make /bat/. However, word bat conveys some interpretation that relies on the circumstances in which it is used. For instance, its interpretation is unique in each of these cases: ‘I purchased a cricket bat’. ‘She goes in to bat’. ‘Bat disperses its wing’. The closing - ing is a morpheme as well, although it conveys interpretation only when it’s leap to word such as bat, to form batting. As one can see, appending the morpheme –ing results in altering the different morpheme, on this occasion the repetition of last consonant (Sipe, 2008).

Sipe, (2008) further stresses on that such kinds of alterations in morphemic are reasonably regular in the English that is the reason of interpreting the patterns of morphemic is another significant element of the knowledge of spelling. Usually the spelling point ‘rules’. Interpreting these attributes of the language of English assists writers in English spelling, because of the reason that it is effective to recall that various words which are not very easy to spell have the spellings that are non-phonetic for multiple reasons: their current spelling may depict the way they were used to be pronounced decades ago or they may be adopted from the foreign language (Swander et al, 2007). The majority of these attributes must be memorized as individual cases. There is not any steady technique to what the language of English does with the adopted words from the rest of the languages.

However, the most experienced speller will infrequently hear an unknown, non-phonetic word and he or she is usually unable of using the visual or expressed information for working out its correct spelling. At this point in time, the writer will have to use different strategies like asking someone or consulting a dictionary (Neuman& Dickinson, 2001). Usually, visual knowledge will assist others finding an unknown non-phonetic term in a dictionary or select a word in spell check. Furthermore, the expressed and organized teaching of knowledge, expertise and strategies related to spelling at all levels of development of spelling will guide students in progressing the capability of producing the correct spelling persistently. As, students develop in their stages of understanding of writing and the spelling system (Hildreth, 1962). This will help them in increasing the number and scope of strategies of spelling they utilize and improve their ability of selecting, applying and integrating proper spelling strategies.

At all levels, there is a need for clear and smart teaching methods related to knowledge of all kinds of spelling, for ensuring that they have an equal repertoire as they get access to the spelling of both known as well as unknown words. Particularly, expert spellers are also capable of integrating the strategies of spelling, they use and also make knowledge of spelling on which they draw (Wedell & Alshumaimeri, 2014). English spelling can be learnt through the sound of various letters. The sound of every letter is different from the other. To teach the students of primary level, it is necessary that they should be taught through phonics. Teaching through phonics is widely used in various countries. The correct spellings can also be learnt easily through monosyllabic words. If the students are able to understand the sound of letters, then they can also learn spellings easily. They can also become fluent in pronunciation through monosyllabic words by their sounds (Kessler & Treiman, 2001).

Spelling in the different key learning areas

The practical view of language that constructs the State Literacy Strategy concentrates on the way in which people make use of language for various objectives and the link between language and its meaning (Kessler & Treiman, 2001). This point of view has applicability for the way of doing reading; writing, speaking and listening. In primary schools, a separation of learning is done in two important areas. Every important learning area uses specific written and spoken language in the form of symbols for presenting its knowledge. Thus, students have to learn different types of literacy for every crucial subject (Aljoudi et al, 2011). The teachers of primary school have the responsibility of valuing the use of correct spelling of all the students while writing. The teachers also have to make an identification of the demands of the spelling of their key areas of learning and for teaching students mainly the vocabulary and the knowledge of spelling which is needed by all the students for spelling the vocabulary in a correct way. Another point is that teachers should give students different kinds of knowledge related to spelling in all important areas of learning.

If parents monitor their children’s spelling, they then can help assist and guide their children to learn the correct spelling. (Neuman S and Dickinson 2001). For increasing the value and efficiency of the role played by the parents in the spelling development of the students, there is a need for parents and teachers to share the information related to the practices and expectations of literacy. Developing an understanding the ways of teaching spelling and the expectations of students will make both at home and primary school more consistent with each other. In this way, students will probably become more successful in learning English spelling. In addition, schools can help parents by giving access to important information which they can use to develop their children’s spelling. (Ahab Al-Furaydi, 2013).

Such important information the relationship between spelling and other different language mediums of speaking, listening, reading and writing and the way of assessing spelling at home by the parents. At the same time, teachers at primary schools could encourage the parents to guide their children towards achieving the previous factors and to feel positive. Related to those factors of knowledge related to spelling for which they can feel positive. They should motivate the students simply, for example, giving out different dictionaries; those dictionaries could be pocket sized or big and also provide them with other necessities required for learning spelling like different interest tools and concepts.

Similarly, parents can also tell their children the correct spelling of words which children are not familiar with (Al Sheikh et al, 2015). According to (Kessler & Treiman, (2001) Students can learn the true meanings of words if they are able to understand the spellings. If spellings are not correct, then meanings of the words are completely changed and it also creates trouble for the readers. Spellings should be taught in the early years of schooling so that children may grab them easily (Hanna, 1971). Research also reveals that the teaching of spellings after the age of 12 is difficult. Therefore, spelling should be taught at primary level.

Whole-school focus on spelling

Within a focus on whole-school in literacy teaching, an expectation is made that all schools focus on teaching English spelling. For supporting the student’s development as spellers and for promoting improved school results, there is a need of adopting an approach in the whole school to teach and assess spelling. This approach must be ensured by all schools and proper plans should be made to ensure the implementation of spelling as an important part of the literacy strand in the early years of primary school (Mohamed Khalifa Gawi, 2011). Coordination must be done on these plans with the support team for literacy in schools, by giving students a number of opportunities for experiencing success in spelling. It is the duty of the administration of the primary school to provide training to all teachers to make them aware of spelling errors as this will help the teachers in applying these understandings and knowledge in classrooms in all important areas of learning (Choudhury, 2004).

In primary schools, the students are evaluated according to their achievements and this can allow teachers to identify the right steps that must be taken and the areas the students need support in the most. In schools where there is a coordinated approach in teaching spelling also helps the students in getting awareness of the outcomes of the English spelling for which expectation is made from all the students and for clarifying the duties and responsibilities of all main groups, which include students, teachers, supervisors and other executives of schools as well as parents. Specifically, it is therefore expected that parents will also participate along with teachers to help students in improving their spellings.(Ajab Al-Furaydi, 2013).

Within a linked environment of learning in which learning of spelling is closely integrated with learning of speaking, listening, reading and writing, proper teaching must be done in a systematic and expressed way related to different kinds of knowledge associated with spellings that are appropriate to the purpose of writing and level of development in spelling (Alenezi, 2015). Systematic teaching through concentration on literacy has three significant dimensions. First of all, it should ensure that all teachers have a proper understanding of the kind of knowledge and expertise they need to teach and a clear assumption of an appropriate time to teach specific skills. (Gillet & Gillet, 2012). Secondly, the need for teachers to closely monitor the requirements of some skills, thirdly, the knowledge should not be left for chance, i.e. it must be ensured that the child faces no difficulties when it comes to understanding what has been taught. The appropriate teaching of spelling depicts that teachers must give relevant environment for learning English language, for example, by concentrating on the skills and expertise related to spelling and by providing lessons for the aim and value of instructions related to spelling. (Mahboob & Elyas, 2015)

The teachers of primary schools should focus on teaching phonological, morphemic and spelling knowledge to their students. They must be taught about the strategies which they can use at the time of implication of that knowledge. It has been found from a research that students must be involved in certain activities of English spelling through which they can learn how they can use spells while reading, speaking, writing and listening (Alnaim, 2015). They must be given different opportunities through which they can use their personal knowledge in relation to spelling.

In all the stages of primary school, students must be taught about continuous development of their skills and expertise related to the use of English spelling. Although, students should make the goal of learning correct English spelling at all levels of development, but they should focus mainly on spelling in their early stages of life. When students learn more and more concepts, then knowing correct and correct spelling helps them in using that knowledge of spelling more frequently and consistently (Abdullah, 2007). However, perfectness in the case of spelling can be a significant indicator of having knowledge of spelling which can be used by a student or still needed to be taught. Where convenient, teachers should explain the strategies of spelling which can be utilized or give the correct spelling. For teaching spelling in an effective way, teachers should understand the way of giving access to students for four kinds of knowledge which is required for spelling words, the way of planning programs of classroom by utilizing the main strategies of teaching which can assist in learning English spelling (Zhao, 2010). English is the second language in Saudi Arabia so it is taught in 4th grade. At the age of 9, clearly, it will be difficult for the students to grab a new language. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the government to change the strategies and announce English as a compulsory subject from grade one so that it becomes easier for the students to learn English. There are several multinational companies working in Saudi Arabia that are hiring professionals fluent in English, thus, English learning is crucial for a better future and to find better jobs.

Modelled spelling

In modelled form of spelling, the teacher explains the way of using visual knowledge, morphemic knowledge and reading knowledge at the time of spelling words. The teacher expresses the knowledge of spelling with students by showing, demonstrating and instructing while students see, listen, involve and respond to that (Cenoz, 2007). The modelled spelling, format can be improved through teachers as they can work to improve the writing and speaking ability of the children. Evidently, it will be better if there are native English teachers in the schools so that language could be improved (Nulman &Gerber, 1984). Written tests might also be conducted to improve the writing ability of the students.

Guided spelling

The teacher guides one single student or group of students in accordance with the usual needs of spelling, identified by effective procedures of assessment. Teachers give instruction, teach, ask, prompt, evaluate and lead the spelling development of students while an expectation is made that students will keep involved, solve issues, do activities, take risks and learn the true spellings (Conttia, 2007). Training should be provided for the teachers to help them work with children. If they are fully trained, they can educate the children in a better way.

Independent spelling

The teacher formulates contexts of written language with having a purpose in which students are able of applying practices and integrating the knowledge gathered, specifically at the time of modelled and guided sessions of spelling. Teachers make, motivate, give feedback, keep an eye and record all the activities of students related to development in their English spelling (Wedell & Alshumaimeri, 2014).

It is necessary that there should be a separate syllabus for English language in schools and it should be mandatory for all the students. This will be helpful for students to improve their English language skills.

Assessing spelling

Assessment is a very important part in teaching English spelling. It’s the responsibility of teachers to provide correct assessment for students so that they can get true information regarding their achievements in spelling and it also helps teachers in making future plans and lessons aimed at improving students' spelling which are important for students' progress (M Alhaisoni et al, 2015). Assessment can be made informally in the class, yet, there is a need for proper planning, for ensuring that teachers are properly monitoring the progress of students in their spelling by utilizing the results suitable for every level as a base for their programs of teaching. In addition to the use of assessment activities made by teachers, different spelling tests can also help teachers in assessing the spelling skills of students. These tests give information regarding the students' spelling achievements and a suitable benchmark of performance for the whole school for analysis of results (Mohamed Khalifa Gawi, 2011).

Development of spelling in students

With the passage of time, when students learn writing, their spelling explains the different features which can specify various levels of development in their competence of spelling. These features of progress in spelling can be shown in students writing through the analysis of their behaviour in relation to spelling. (Alhaysoni, 2012). It is obviously the primary school's responsibility to address the needs and requirements of all students, which also include those who have some difficulty in English spelling. In addition, teachers should keep an eye on the development of students in spelling on a regular basis and should take a positive approach towards student’s progression. (Botley et al, 2007).

A systematic tracking of all those students who are in need of continuous teaching of spelling must be done in order to improve their spelling skills. Students who show difficulty in spelling must be given extra support and one to one tutorials for assisting them in order to gain extra knowledge, competencies and the correct strategies they require for becoming effective and good spellers. Not all the students face the same type of difficulty in spelling. Therefore, it is important for teachers to collect as much information about their students in order to make effective judgments regarding the spelling requirements of particular students (Dixon et al, 2010). Students who have the same type of needs should be put in similar groups for close monitoring and certain activities and also whilst giving feedback.

The sessions to guide students in spelling give teachers the most important opportunity to work and guide students who have spelling problems. The sessions of spelling may include planned educational approaches and methods that meet the spelling requirement of a particular group. These instructions allow the students to progress in spelling. Moreover, students who experience problems must try and participate with other students, especially in modelled spelling where they can share their knowledge with others (Sipe, 2008). Clearly, in developed countries spelling is taught to children at a very early stage of schooling through various methods, such as, toys and phonics. Moreover, the teachers can make them go through the spelling in different ways like they are availing them various storybooks to go through which would help them to develop their English skills. This concept can also be adapted in Saudi Arabia to educate the children in a proper way.

English Spelling in the primary grade Schools in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, English is taught in schools as a foreign language (EFL), in which there is a need for students to learn four different skills of the language. In the English language class in Saudi, the most difficult area seems to be teaching writing. (Aljarf, 2007). A significant challenge for writing is posed by spelling to the initial learners of English, which results in words that are spelled incorrectly and this may result in sentences with no coherence (Hyland, 2003).

Hildreth (1962) found that correct spelling is a proof of good behaviour plus an understanding of what has been taught while bad spelling may give the impression of inadequacy in approaches that may have been used for teaching. (Chandler-Olcott, 2001). When spelling is improper, then it may depict- that the writer is not intelligent and is careless in comparison to other students which is not a good sign (Granham& Harris, 2005). Moreover, it has also been found that learners of English language, including Arabic students, have problems with spelling English words (Al-zuoud, K. M., &Kabilan, 2013). These problems have been due to different reasons like difference in the system of orthographic between Arabic and English and the interference of student’s first language. In addition to this, these difficulties in spelling can cause many errors in spelling which may have negative impacts on Arabic students' writing proficiency. (Saiegh-Haddad, 2004). In classes of English language, the most important part must be to address errors in spelling. The structure of English sentences is affected by bad spelling and could result in the mispronunciation of words. Bowen (2011) focuses on learning spelling as an important part of writing. Despite the significance of spelling in making meaningful texts in writing forms, programs of language usually concentrate on teaching, speaking, writing, listening, and spelling, yet usually neglect the instruction of spelling.

Al-Jarf (2005) examined the correlation between spelling and listening apprehension to students and interpreting tests in Saudi Arabia. From the analysis of data, 41.5% words were spelt wrongly by EFL students and 49.5% correct answers to questions during listening apprehension tests. 52% correct answers were given for questions on decoding tests. Al-Jarf (2007) did a research and found 36 spelling are usually made by first year students who were doing majors in languages in a university of Saudi Arabia. The errors in English language spelling were examined in relation to the Arabic spelling system, mispronunciation, conflict with other words of English and not knowing the correct English language pronunciation. The research recommended that more study should be done on these affects for understanding the difficulties faced by Arabic students in English spelling.

There are other studies in some Arabic countries that face the same difficulties. One of these studies is Al-zuoud and Kabilan (2013) study, which analysed errors of spelling in 43 Jordanian Architect students. They found 228 errors of spelling which appeared in 43 papers and then divided them into four kinds in accordance with the classification i.e. omission, substitution, insertion and transportation. The results found that the most occurring errors of spelling were errors of substitution and omission. Similarly, Al-Jabri (2006) analysed the errors of spelling in 114 Omani students of the fifth grade in two rural schools of Oman. The data was gathered from tests of spelling taken on 10 words. In this research, the most usual errors were also the error of omission and error of substitution, while there was less frequency transportation and insertion errors. Swander et al (2007Explained that spelling errors are mostly common in Arabic students because of the differences in Arabic and English language in comparison to the errors of spelling done by other different learners who belong to non-Arabic countries. .

In the United Arab Emirates, Al-Taani (2006) explored the errors of spelling made by students in writing at secondary level. In this study, a sample of 200 students (randomly chosen) during the academic year of 2003 and 2004 and their writing were analysed. In the research, the classification and identification of position of errors were depicting that the main errors of spelling happen to be in the middle of the word. The research suggested that this type of error must be given more time for investigation.

Fender (2008) did a research on spelling of Arabic and non-Arabic students and reported that students of Saudi Arabia have lower levels of success in skills of spelling and they also feel more difficulty in understanding spelling patterns.

There are also certain educational inequalities in Saudi Arabia as rich families can afford private schooling where education quality is better in comparison to public schools because the teachers who teach English are native speakers. The quality of English language teaching in public schools in Saudi Arabia is very average or below average. However, English has become an important language to get better jobs and secure a better future. Clearly, the Saudi government is not focusing on the English language teaching of their children and this can be the reason why local Saudi citizens are unable to seek better jobs in leading multinational companies. Evidently, Saudi Arabia is one of the wealthiest and high income countries in the world. It is not difficult for it to revolutionize its education sector. If it is successful to improve its education sector, it will be helpful to further increase its national income as well. .

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