The four kinds of spelling knowledge

Posted on June 12, 2013.

For students to become proficient spellers, there are four different kinds of spelling knowledge they require.

Using Sound Waves ensures children have the opportunity to develop all four areas of spelling knowledge.

Phonological knowledge

A Sound Waves speller develops a deep awareness of the sounds in our language and their relationship with the letter combinations that represent the sounds in written form. They can segment words into individual sounds and syllables, blend sounds to form words, manipulate sounds, and recognise onset and rime. The activities and games in Sound Waves allow students to develop both their phonemic and graphemic awareness.

Visual knowledge

Sound Waves encourages students to look at words as a whole, as well as syllables and as individual graphemes. They learn to recognise spelling patterns and also to identify deviations from regular patterns. The Sound Waves activities and games encourage students to play with words and discover patterns and visual cues that assist a proficient speller.

Morphemic knowledge

As students continue to explore the words of our language, they start to discover more patterns and generalisations. As they look at the meaning of words and how words are formed, they discover that words conform to certain patterns and can also deviate from these patterns. Sound Waves helps students to explore the formation of compound words and the use of prefixes and suffixes to change word meanings. Word building is explored and students look at how changes to a word create changes to the word’s meaning and grammatical use of the word.

Etymological knowledge

In Sound Waves students are also provided with the opportunity to explore word origins and history. Students explore the roots of words and word meanings and learn to recognise the relationships between words. They develop an understanding of how some words are derived and how the meaning of unfamiliar words may be determined by examining parts of a word and similar related words.


About the Author - The Sound Waves Team

The Sound Waves program is a collaborative effort by two experienced teachers, Barbara Murray and Terri Watson, working in conjunction with the Firefly Education team. Sound Waves is a whole school phonemic word study program written for the Australian Curriculum. Based on the globally proven approach of explicitly teaching synthetic phonicsSound Waves offers a range of structured resources to suit every classroom, along with professional development and support for teachers implementing the program.

Find out more about Sound Waves

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