Developing Primary Students’ Spellings

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Developing Primary Students’ Spellings through Two Types of Dictation Activities.

Introduction to the Paper

The paper respectively contains the background for the proposed topic, the problem statement and the subsequent research question, the significance of the study, the aims/objectives of the study, the relevant literature review, the proposed research methodology, the time frame, and the budget for the project, and finally the list of references.

Research Background

When the world is moving fast in the computer era, writing skills should highly be developed and also dictation can be treated as a teaching and learning tool in which pupils learn to improve their language learning.

The Sri Lankan education system comprises over 4 million students scattered around 10,000 schools with an average of 350,000 admitted to it each year. Over 240,000 teachers are involved in teaching these students while the general average teacher to student ratio, according to UNESCO Institute for Statistics, World Bank report 2012, is 1:24

According to a survey done by the Department of Education, roughly 40% of school candidates have failed at both the O/L and A/L exams. Moreover, a large number of school students who sit for the O/L examination have shown a tendency of failing all subjects. For example, in 2013, the Ministry of Education revealed an alarming figure of 10,360 candidates who had failed all subjects, where 9,787 out of them were school candidates. When the highest fail percentage falls on English language and that is 52.14 %,

When considering the Sri Lankan primary and secondary school education system, children show less interest in learning English. They are unable to do workbook activities properly without the assistant of a teacher. They always ask for the simple spellings of words. Another reason is the basic knowledge of the language has not been establishing in students properly. Moreover, there are secondary learners who cannot even identify the letters in the alphabet even.

This problematic situation badly affect the students' final results in their O/L s and A / Ls

Problem Statement

Most of the students do not have sufficient knowledge of spelling to understand the lesson and to do the workbook activities properly. Out of 40 students, only nine or ten are up to the standard, but the majority remain passive at workbook activities.

Therefore this is a very crucial factor that determines the teaching-learning process.

Yet, despite all the efforts put forward by the government throughout the years to improve the quality of the output of the education system (the students), it is a largely agreed upon fact that the desired and the actual output levels indicate a large gap, pointing out that the teachers may not be doing justice to their role as the core contributor of this.

Research Question

The researcher aims to find answers to the following three sub-questions through carrying out the proposed research,

  • Will they be able to enrich their capacity for spelling within a short period of time?
  • Can we promote the ability to use correct spelling?
  • Will they tend to study by themselves by promoting independent autonomous learners?
  • Will they actively participate in the lessons?

Significance of the Study

As local research is done on the topic are very limited/unpublished, and international research are mostly inaccessible/lacking background relevance, in the event of publication, this research would be much significant and practically useful to many education-related parties as follows,

  • To teachers – for centralizing effort for maximizing the effectiveness of spelling of children
  • To teacher administrators (principals/ – for understanding the strategies and methods of improving students’ spelling
  • To teacher trainers – to understand and follow the methods of improving students’ spelling.
  • To prospective school teacher candidates – to educate themselves on the future trends to gain competitive advantage at recruitments
  • To future researches – as a base for further research along with the topic

Objectives of the Study

General Objective:

Through the proposed study the researcher aspires to explore the adequacy and the subsequent potential improvement requirements of correct attitudes, soft skills, and functional skills, and good practices possessed and employed by Secondary School Teachers which complement the core requirement areas for a teacher; subject knowledge and subject-related skills (hard skills).

The above-mentioned general research objective divides into three branches as follows to form the specific objectives of the study.

Specific Objectives:

  • To understand the lesson without the help of the teacher.
  • To enrich their spellings through different types of dictation activities.
  • To write sentences with correct spelling.
  • To motivate students to do the activities enjoyably.
  • To read with more confidence.
  • To do the workbook activities properly.
  • Promoting the skill of spelling a word, by breaking the word into syllables.
  • To inculcate the idea “Learning English is Fun”

Literature Survey

An important factor that emerged from an analytical study of the literature on correct spelling is that there is a number of research studies done earlier in the field of education. The available literature shows how to correct spelling enhances to improve the writing skills of a learner. Writing with correct spelling is a crucial skill for students, who do English as a second language. The application behind this method is essential for the teachers who want to improve their mode of teaching.

Review of Literature Related to the Study:

In reviewing the literature relevant to the study, due to the limited time available and moreover, the limited available publication on the research carried out on this topic in Sri Lanka, the researcher has taken the liberty of extending her scope to examine the similar studies conducted in other countries as well.

When looking at various the problem of writing correct spelling of the students and the different levels of competencies they have in their target language.

When teaching a second language the teacher should be fully aware of the effective techniques to give the maximum benefit for the students. Some theoretical facts brought out many important issues.

What is the correct spelling?

“Writing can be defined as the most useful assessment for the child”

Message Encode Text

The message is encoded as a written text and the child could be able to write correct English. Wat the writer has encoded in the text must be clear. To encode a text correct spelling must be essential, and also to understand the meaning. The correct text must be used. The text is the core of the reading process that means by which the message is transmitted from write to read.

It does seem to be the case that as we read we make hypotheses about what the writer intends to say If the writer’s job is to make sure that he wrote is correct and significant and the value of every word in a text. He must be actively aware of the words that he wrote. This is his responsibility to write the correct text.

“Writing correct spelling is a person’s particular and individual knowhow, which is an impersonal and formalized writing style in several historical varieties. Every literature human has his or her own manner of writing”

Stimulating the development of metacognition might improve not just spelling performance but also spelling consciousness. Metacognition refers to awareness, knowledge, and thinking about one's cognitive processes and strategies. (Flavell, 1979)

Many linguists in the world have defined writing correct spelling as a skill and it has strategies.

It is better to identify how to implement different strategies to improve correct writing spellings of children. This study has convinced that developing correct spelling is not an easy task, but doing continuous activities it can be developed. It needs conscious mental effects too.

Even though we live in a modern world filled with computers and word processors, writing correct spelling is an important skill to learn. (Harris, 2002)


In the previous chapter, I have discussed how educationalists and linguists consider the skill of writing, its importance, and the positive suggestions of the correct spelling. Here I will introduce how to use the two different types of dictation,

  1. Phonetic item dictation
  2. Orthographic item dictation – to improve the students’ correct spelling.

Phonemic text dictation is an extended version of phonemic item dictation. It is a technique where teachers read the passage aloud and students phonetically transcribe it. Phonemic item dictation is an effective way to understand the changes in the phonemes. Symbols (letters) do not change in spoken language in English. Phonemic text dictation can be used as an effective technique to make students realize the phonemes and transfer them in their writings; in other words, make them put their theoretical knowledge into practice (BuyukikizK., 2004)

The orthographic item dictation is the dictating of individual words in isolation for transcription, similar to the traditional spelling test. It is useful for reinforcing the correlation between the spelling system and the sound system of a language. In English, this correlation is more complex than it is in other languages (e.g., Spanish and many Slavic languages), and so it is a worthwhile ESL/EFL exercise. (Alkire)

Conceptual Framework

Technology used by teachers

Phonetic Item Dictation

Orthographic item dictation

Successful delivery of curricula & good classroom management.

Ability to phonetically transcribe a word.

Individual words in isolation for transcription.

A higher level of students’ correct spelling.

The hypothesis to be Tested

  • In all cases, dictations must be selected according to the students' level and ability, and the usage and style should be similar to what the students are expected to produce on their own in the lesson
  • Phonemic text dictation is an extended version of phonemic item dictation. It is a technique where teachers read the passage aloud and students phonetically transcribe it
  • The orthographic item dictation is the dictating of individual words in isolation for transcription, similar to the traditional spelling test. It is useful for reinforcing the correlation between the spelling system and sound system of a language

Population, Sampling, and the Sample

Population under Study:

Teachers attached to schools in the Western Province which are under the ‘International School category.

Sampling Plan:

Both Probability Sampling and Non-Probability Sampling methods will be used.

The first language has a greater influence on correct pronunciation. When learning a second language it is very important to write a word with correct spelling. Students often apply the phonetic conversation of their native language to write the word.

I used equalization of correct spelling for this purpose, I selected Grade 4 students as my sample and I used phonetic Item dictation and Orthographic Item dictation with them. That will enhance the competence of writing skill for students and promote their interest in writing correct spelling.

Sample for Data Collection:

Given questionnaires to the selected students at the beginning of the research. Made the conclusion using their responses.

Data Collection

All in the sample of participants will be given a questionnaire to fill out, and around 25-50% of the sample (depending on the sample size), will be subjected to an interview plus classroom observation.


Two separate Questionnaires will be used to gather data from the selected sample; one for the participating teachers and the other for the participating students.

A sub group of the initial sample (teachers and their students together) will be observed in a classroom setting and an Observation Sheet will be filled out.

Structured Interviews will be carried out for the same sub-group.

Data Analyzing Tools

Both Quantitative and Qualitative data analyzing tools will be used as the data gathered will be a combination of both types.


  1. Graham, S., Harris, K. R., & Chorzempa, B. F. (2002). Contribution of spelling instruction to the spelling, writing, and reading of poor spellers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(4), 669–686.
  2. Jim Campbell, Leonidas Kyriakides, Daniel Muijs, Wendy Robinson (2005). Assessing Teacher Effectiveness: Different Models (1st ed.).
  3. Warwick, United Kingdom: Assessing Teacher Effectiveness: Different Models . (Original work published March 12, 2004).
  4. Wyse & Johns , 2001 (Flavell, 1979; Harris, Graham, Brindle, & Sandmel, 2009)K. Kaan Buyuikiz – Gazizntep University, Department of Turkish Language Teaching, Turkey.h
  5. Finocchiaro, M. 1969. Teaching English as a second language. rev. ed. p. 176. New York: Harper & Row


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Developing Primary Students’ Spellings. (2021, Oct 10). Retrieved July 23, 2024 , from

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