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[Susan notes: The good news is that Stephen Krashen had a letter published in the Christian Science Monitor.

The bad news is that Stephen Krashen had a letter published in the Christian Science Monitor. See the exchange below:

Sent to the Christian Science Monitor, May 25

It is a great honor to have a letter published in the Christian Science Monitor, and I understand that you have the right to alter my wording, but the change in the first paragraph distorted my message. In your version, in the first sentence, it sounds like I fully agree that children will not pick up spelling as they go along. This is not my position.

I also know you are concerned about space, but deleting the research support reduced my claim to unsupported personal opinion, rather than a generalization supported by scientific research.

Please consider republishing the letter as originally written.

Sincerely,

Stephen Krashen



Mr. Krashen,


I apologize for changing the first sentence of your letter. I was attempting to make the sentence tighter and failed to take note of the change in message.


Regarding your research, all letter submissions are held to same factual standards as our news articles. I spent over 20 minutes yesterday searching several databases and could not find any references to Cornman's study. I appreciate your attempt at grounding personal opinion with statistical data, however I chose to delete the text because you repeated the same message in your other statements.


Unfortunately, we cannot reprint previously- published letter, but your comments have been duly noted. Please feel free to contribute letters in the future.

Thank you for your feedback.


Chelsea Waugaman]

Published in Christian Science Monitor
05/25/2005

To the editor

Re: “Spelling makes a comeback,” May 17


According to the Monitor, there has been a return to explicit spelling instruction because we cannot assume children will “pick up (spelling) as they go along.”

We have known for a long time, however, that spelling instruction is not effective. Here is one example: Elementary school principal Oliver Cornman dropped all spelling instruction from his school for three years and kept careful records: Dropping spelling had no effect on children’s spelling accuracy. His study was published in 1902, but his conclusions agree closely with those of other researchers.

In addition, there is evidence that children do, in fact, “pick up” spelling, not by just “going along” but by reading. In fact, the only way we can acquire the complex (and often unteachable) rules of spelling is by reading. This claim is supported by research, including studies showing that our spelling gets worse after we read misspelled words.

Good readers are nearly always good spellers, but may not be perfect spellers. They usually know when they are about to make a spelling mistake, however, and can usually recognize the correct spelling of a word when presented with alternatives on a spell-checker. This feel for correct spelling comes from extensive reading.

That's what Steve wrote. Below is what they printed.

Regarding your May 17 article "Spelling makes a comeback": There has been a return to explicit spelling instruction because we cannot assume children will "pick up [spelling] as they go along."

We have known for a long time, however, that spelling instruction is not effective. There is evidence that children do, in fact, "pick up" spelling, not by just "going along," but by reading. In fact, the only way we can acquire the complex rules of spelling is by reading.

Good readers are nearly always good spellers, but may not be perfect spellers. They usually know when they are about to make a spelling mistake, however, and can usually recognize the correct spelling of a word when presented with alternatives by a spell-checker. This understanding of correct spelling comes from extensive reading.

Stephen Krashen

Los Angeles

Stephen Krashen, only they botched it


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