226.  What are some effective ways for using wordgames for improving spelling for young learners?


THANK YOU so very much for your insightful question. Word games are great ways to improve spelling for young English learners.

As I have indicated in other answers to several questions on this topic of ENGLISH SPELLING, the English language was NOT first written down by English-speakers. It was written down by Roman soldiers who, around 46 A.D. arrived in what is now known today as England. Roman soldiers or Roman civil officials accompanying the soldiers, brought with them two key tools that were not known by the local people that the Romans found in "England." These tools were the Roman numerical system and the Roman alphabet.

At the time, the Roman alphabet only included 23 letters; other letters --"j," "u," and "w"-- were later added to the alphabet. Because Romans --who spoke Latin-- brought with them incredible amounts of concepts in the fields of law, war, peace, medicine, architecture, science, philosophy, etc., many Latin words became part of the "English" language and the spelling of these English words depends on the original Latin spelling.  On the other hand, Latin-speaking Romans who could NOT possibly hear the sounds of the "English"-speaking locals were the ones who decided how to spell the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic (or Keltic) words they heard spoken locally.

Thus, English spelling is the result of a historical accident. For English-speaking and English Learners alike, learning how to spell English is hard work because the sound-symbol correspondence or the sound system correlation is NOT very effective (Remember: the Romans wrote what they HEARD, and they could NOT have heard very accurately because the Latin sound system was totally different from the Anglo and Saxon and Celtic sound systems, and Latin was very limited in the number of sounds it had.)

So, word games make the task of learning how to spell English FUN!!!! and ALL students love to have FUN!!!! AND YOU could design some interesting games and market them and sell them where Arabic-speaking students are learning English.

The best way to master English spelling --the best way to master the spelling of any language where
(1) the sounds and
(2) the symbols used to represent these sounds
do not correlate one-to-one, that is, one-sound-to-one-symbol-- is to try to help students by placing words into spelling categories so students remember the many patterns of English words. Now there is NO rhyme or reason for these categories, they just have to be memorized and that is where making the memorization a FUN activity would pay dividends for your students (and po$$ibly for YOU!!!).

I usually recommend to teachers to organize the English words their students are learning into three basic categories and then POST the words in the classroom:  One wall for Category 1 --words categorized by MEANING; for example, animals, tools,
articles of clothing, edible plants, etc. One wall for Category 2 --words categorized by language-wide sound patterns; for
example, words ending in "-ed" pronounced /-t/. Words ending in "-ed" pronounced /-d/. Words ending in "-ed" pronounced /-ed/, etc. Words ending in "s" pronounced /-s/. Words ending in "s" pronounced /-z/. Words ending in "s" pronounced /-ez/. Words signaled with "a" or with "an;" for example, an eel, an hour, an avenue, a book, etc. etc., etc. One wall for Category 3 --words categorized by spelling patterns by sounds: for example, bear, pear, bare, pare, pair, etc, etc. Or words like "thin" and "this," or words like "sure" and "suggest."

NO English-speaking child, and NO English Learner can possibly figure out WHY or HOW COME these many, many English patterns of spelling words exists. ONLY THE  ROMANS knew and they disappeared from this Earth a very long time ago!!!!! We will never know!!!! We just have to teach these patters to our students in a FUN way!!!!

Thank you for your GREAT question!



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net