presented by Kenn Apel
Spelling and word-level reading are language skills that are crucial for academic, vocational, and social success. Both written language skills are supported by five “building blocks” that enable individuals to decode and encode words. These building blocks include: phonemic awareness, orthographic pattern awareness, morphological awareness, semantic awareness, and mental graphemic representations. This course will introduce these five building blocks of literacy and discuss how they impact word-level literacy development. The developmental phases of spelling and word-level reading also will be discussed.
Kenn Apel, PhD, CCC-SLP, is professor and chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. For more than 30 years, Dr. Apel has been conducting research in the areas of spoken and written language and working with children, adolescents, and adults who have language-based learning deficits. Dr. Apel’s current research focuses on the underlying linguistic components that support the development of word-level reading and spelling, with a particular focus on orthographic knowledge and morphological awareness. He currently is the principal investigator of an IES-sponsored grant to develop a morphological awareness assessment. Dr. Apel is the former Editor-in-Chief of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (2007-2009). He is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and a recipient of that association’s Honors Award.
Word study is knowing why words are written the way they are. Current research supports taking a word study instructional approach when helping students read and write. Importantly, such an approach aids students’ academic, vocational, and social success.
Phonemic awareness and orthographic pattern awareness are two of the five “blocks” of word study that help students understand why words are written the way they are. Phonemic awareness helps students think about the sounds of our language. Orthographic pattern awareness helps students consciously consider the rules for how letters represent sounds in print. Both skills aid students’ spelling and word-level reading abilities.
Morphological awareness and semantic awareness are two more of the five blocks of word study. Morphological awareness helps student think about how words are related to other words that share the same base word or root and also to think about prefixes and suffixes. Semantic awareness helps student to consider whether a word is conveying the correct meaning. Both skills are important for students as they read and spell.
Mental graphemic representations (MGRs) is the fifth block of word study. MGRs are the stored mental representations (pictures in one’s head) of written words. With strong MGRs, students can read and spell relatively effortlessly and fluently.
To be able to assess and instruct or intervene in either spelling or word-level reading, one must understand how those two literacy skills develop. Spelling and word-level reading follow similar paths of development. At each phase, the five blocks of word study contribute to growing levels of abilities.