Learn That Word
Video: Why vocabulary matters

Video: Who uses it

Video: What people say

Sign up for free tutoring
Video: 1 min. introduction

About LearnThatWord


by Transposh - translation plugin for wordpress

Phonics and spelling rules 

What about phonics, root words, spelling rules?

We offer one of the largest lists of root words and suffixes on the Web. An easy summary of phonics and spelling rules in the works. You will find a lot of lists in the word list archive, grouped around certain root words or rules, ready to be added to your sessions.

Our brain: A pattern genius

However, there are no short-cuts to orthography. Neuroscience clearly shows that our brain applies patterns, not logic, when reading and writing (and most everything else it does).

It is possible to illustrate the logic of the English language through rules and phonics--to a certain degree, at least. We also appreciate this knowledge in a moment of doubt. The brain, however, is not using such analytical and logic-based processes during reading and writing. If it were, processing language would become slow and processing-intensive. We would not be able to sustain it!

The secret: Mental Orthographic Images

Most people read and write based on Mental Orthographic Images (MOI). This "mental library" helps our mind match patterns to decide how certain words should look when printed and to quickly attach word shapes to meaning.

Most of us form MOI effortlessly with enough practice. We then use these MOI to read and write with increasing speed and confidence. The majority of learners do not use rules to interact with language. We simply form MOI of words, which is fortunate, since English has a huge number of irregular or rule-contradicting words.

Not smart... brilliant!

To some, this process may not seem very "smart," since it means the brain is downright memorizing new words. Upon closer look, however, it proves to be an amazingly effective and powerful approach. It allows for speedy processing of large amounts of data and gives us a glimpse into the vast and powerful capabilities of the human brain.

Our brain has the power of an incredible super computer. It maintains a huge library of words so we can skim through text, hardly noticing that we are reading. It is this processing power that makes incorrect words jump out at experienced readers instantly, alerting us that something does not "look right."

Certain learning disabilities reduce the brain's ability to form and/or process MOI. As a consequence learners often shift to a more analytical approach. This is the reason why phonics seems to work quite well for students with certain learning disabilities.

Just because phonics are a great way to teach students with certain learning disabilities does not mean that they are good tools for the rest of us. MOI-based learners (the large majority) rely on regular practice focused on introducing words in interesting context. Your brain will easily learn what it finds relevant and important.

Phonics or spelling practice? See for yourself