These are the continuing adventures of a Swedish immigrant during her first year as an American. She boldly went where she'd never gone before...please come along on Adventures in America.
It's time to talk spelling. My first year, which was as a third grader, much to my relief, I was a terrible speller. TERRIBLE. Swedish is almost 100% phonically spelled (and I do find it ironic that not even the word phonic is spelled phonically...but then again, you know I'm a word nerd...)
In Sweden, kindergarten is optional, but I of course went. I couldn't wait to start school. Here I am practicing hand-writing.
First grade is age 7, not 6 as in the US. However, I couldn't just automagically go from 2nd grade in Sweden to 3rd grade in America, I had to take HOURS of placement tests, which no one had warned me about, and frightened me to death. But I was deemed worthy of 3rd grade. Consequently, I was always a year older than my peers and spent my life explaining about how they start school later in Sweden, which, by the way, I highly applaud.
Back to spelling. I knew how to SPEAK English. I didn't know very well how to read and write it. Can you imagine how confusing silent e's and gh being silent in “through” but “f” in enough? That's the tip of the ice-berg. Nonetheless, this perfectionist over-achiever realized she could spell words she'd SEEN before, so I started to read like a maniac. I of course knew nothing about learning styles or that I'm about 99% a visual learner, but at least I had a plan of action finally.
I remember one incident that was a big factor in me realizing I had to do something different than just try to learn how to memorize my 20 spelling words for the week. I was in Mr. Bones class and he was checking my work. I had written the word “just” like this:
He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “WHY did you put a D in front of that word?"
I looked at him like HE was crazy and said, “Because there's a d in the sound of djust!” He had NO idea what I was talking about and put a big, red, X next to the word and told me not to be adding extra letters to words. I sat there a while realizing that it would be futile to recite all the English words I'd already learned to spell that had extra letters in them...
My reading plan worked. I quickly became an excellent speller. One of my teachers once asked me,”Why can you spell all these other words but yet you got ______________wrong?”
“I guess it hasn't been in any of the books I've read yet.”
She didn't get it.