As you read about these principles, keep in mind that this part of the article is designed to help teachers better understand the nature and structure of the English spelling system. This is essential background knowledge for teachers of reading, spelling, and writing. As Snow et al. explained, the rules for spelling are very complex, "so it is not surprising that many highly literate adults who use those rules correctly [and automatically] find it difficult to talk about them or answer questions about them. Teachers who have been taught about phonics have typically received information about [spelling] as lists of rules about letter sequence constraints. Such lists are unmotivated, unappealing, and difficult to learn. Lists without a logical framework or set of principles must be learned by rote rather than reason." By providing a logical framework, these five principles transform spelling from an arbitrary list of rules about how letters can and cannot be combined into a structured system. Section two of this article offers a way of breaking that system into key content for instruction in kindergarten through seventh grade.


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