How do I learn scientific spelling

Spelling: Children learn best with the primer

Congress lectures do not always have the potential to save generations of children from serious pedagogical errors. But visitors to the 51st Congress of the German Society for Psychology could look forward to such a lecture early on Monday evening: the report on a study by the University of Bonn that examined the success of three different spelling didactics.

The classic »primer approach« is particularly unpopular in alternative educational circles: Dröge and according to scheme F, the children learn step by step letter by letter; they break down words into individual sounds, follow a clearly defined, structured plan and are corrected if they make mistakes. Not so with "reading by writing", better known as "writing by ear". Here children can practice writing undisturbed without having to fear corrections - so that they are not demotivated. The third method, the “spelling workshop”, merely provides learning materials that the children can deal with in any order and at their own pace.

Which method is most often used for teaching varies from state to state. All three methods are also in use in North Rhine-Westphalia. Their success has now been tested there by a team led by Tobias Kuhl and Una Röhr-Sendlmeier at twelve schools with around 2500 children. First of all, shortly after starting school, the previous language skills of the first graders were recorded. Then, from the end of the 1st and until the end of the 3rd grade, they completed dictations every six months according to a standard test, the "Hamburg Writing Test". In addition, the pupils used a questionnaire to provide information on how motivated they were in learning to write and read.

As the psychologists previously reported in a press release, the results were extremely clear: the »primer children« always performed better. And in the end, children who had learned "to read by writing" made a good half more mistakes and the children in the "spelling workshop" even more than twice as many. The primer was just as successful with native German speakers as it was with pupils with a different mother tongue. The researchers also refuted the often-vaunted advantage of the less structured approaches: "The children's writing and reading motivation does not seem to be related to the didactics."

Opinions have long been divided on the question of how the Abc can best be conveyed. Recently, there was more and more talk in favor of classical didactics, the “systematic primer approach”. Its competition is now apparently facing the end. According to media reports, Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek called for the latest results to be quickly learned.