Saturday, April 27, 2013

X ~ X Marks it WRONG



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:

djust

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...

write
stone
thorough
eight
beautiful
coughing...

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.

17 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina - that is some perception to have as a kid .. and what an amazing story. My eyes have been opened to child logic ... definitely more sensible than us adults.

Love the story .. I've been lucky and was able to spell .. cheers Hilary

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

They don't seem like they were the brightest teachers!

Like how you tell this section of your life. Swedish sounds so interesting to me. But I do love languages period. Never knew that Swedish is a phonetical language. Makes it seem less... devastatingly difficult. :) Writer’s Mark

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Being able to spell is important but tedious for a child.

Brian Miller said...

smiles...there is great value in reading...and i def expanded my vocabulary reading...i always loved reading..they are having us try to get the kids to read in all our classes...i def support it...

JoJo said...

I would hate to have to learn English!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Least it got you reading.
I like the Swedish way of spelling. Would've been a lot easier.

Jo said...

I was a good speller when I was a kid, then I learned shorthand and it threw me right off. Since then, emigrating to Canada plus spending 12 years in the States, I haven't a clue how to spell a lot of words. So I can kind of sympathise with you, they do say English is one of the hardest to learn because of the spelling.

JO ON FOOD, MY TRAVELS AND A SCENT OF CHOCOLATE

janiceheck said...

Loved this post! I'm glad you persevered with your spelling, and so happy that you are a visual learner (like me). That saves lots of agony. Visual learners can be early readers, and reading a lot does help spelling.
I loved your answer to your teacher!
www.janiceheck.wordpress.com

Laeli said...

I'm happy to know about Swedish being mostly phonetic. Now I won't sound so dumb when I try and say those words.

Andrew Leon said...

Reading is the most amazing thing. I'm pretty sure I don't have a Southern accent because I spent so much time reading as a kid. And I don't mean that I lost my accent; I never developed the accent to begin with.

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm happy to be a native English speaker, but I wish I knew more languages.

klahanie said...

Hey Tina,

You did well and your determination made you an excellent speller. Just one question for you, my dear friend. Did you learn to spell in American English or proper English, as in, English, English? LOL

Seriously, have a peaceful, positive rest of your weekend.

In kindness,

Gary :)

Rachel said...

When I was little, I was a pretty good speller. At first, I just sounded things out, but I eventually learned things from reading. When we had to write short stories, I would usually write about my pets. My mom would switch I's and Y's because it helps keep vet records from being mixed up, with odd spellings, so I would technically spell their names correctly but the would would be wrong... I always got points taken off for that.

Alison Sommer said...

I've always been a terrible speller, but I've been lucky to grow up just when spell-check got good. Spell-check taught me how to spell words I never could get through classes or reading alone.

Jemima Pett said...

I find it strange that English teachers could be so obtuse. But then again... Glad you can look back on it and laugh now. Well, I hope you can laugh :)
Thanks for your work during the Challenge - it's been great fun, as always.
Jemima at Jemima's blog

Imogen Elvis said...

That was a really clever plan to learn spelling. My youngest sister learnt in much the same way, by reading and by writing.

Jake and Terri said...

Reading and writing are so connected! Too bad more children don't take responsibility for their own learning!