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What makes a good speller (or a bad one)?

June 3, 2016

View this article by Jamie Gumbrecht on the CNN website.

Beyond rote learning and memorization, what makes National Spelling Bee competitors such good spellers?

According to new brain research, spelling a word involves retrieving and storing information through orthographic long-term memory as well as processing information by orthographic working memory.

Brenda Rapp, a cognitive science professor at Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the study, and her colleagues observed 33 people who had trouble spelling after strokes. The participants struggled with long-term memory, working memory or both. Based on their findings, different types of spelling errors were made depending on where their brains were damaged.

Rapp suggests that orthographic long-term and orthographic working memory need to be fully developed and interacting properly to spell well. However, improvements can be made with studying, testing, and a lot of repetition.

J. Richard Gentry, author of Spelling Connections, explains research-based spelling training practices to teach and learn spelling. According to Gentry, “spelling needs its own time, about 15 minutes a day.” “It's all about frequency and patterns,” he said.


View the full article on the CNN website.

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