Spelling Challenges Unique to TCKs in National School

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in Blog | 5 comments

We’re quickly approaching the time of year in which parents are thinking ahead to the next school year. For the parents we serve, this may mean again considering several different options for educating their children: home schooling, international schools, or national schools.

A recent article on the blog Education Cafe concerned evaluating the national school option. Usually, the issues related to national schooling have to do with linguistics: speaking, understanding, writing, and reading. Education consultants are often asked about difficulties with spelling when children are in national schools.

Jennifer Moline, now with Wycliffe, has served as a teacher to TCKs in Russia and as an education consultant with SHARE and The Navigators. She offers the following advice for helping TCKs in this area:

Spelling is best learned when there is a felt need (i.e., when it is meaningful). Automatically, just by the fact that a child is in a national school, the degree of felt need to learn spelling is relatively low. What does this mean to the child in national schools?

  • Spelling should be relevant. (It should matter.)
  • Take every advantage of the teachable moment – that is where it will be meaningful.
  • Word lists might be weighted toward more “personal words,” than set word lists.
  • Communicate the history of the mother tongue to explain all the exceptions to rules.

Here are some ideas to try to bring a more meaningful and felt-need reason for the child in national school to learn (and use!) spelling.

  • Write letters to friends and family in your home country.
  • Ask your friends and family in your home country to write letters to your child so there is added motivation for your child to write them.
  • Write letters to friends who have moved away from your ministry location.
  • Scrapbook about your daily and cross-cultural experiences. (Emphasize the writing that accompanies.)
  • Start a family journal where each person in the family writes in it one day a week. Parents are a great model for kids.
  • Have the kids do a “newsletter” once a month for family and close friends.
  • Write book and movie reviews for the newsletter or to post on a blog.

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  • Delana Stewart

    Excellent ideas! My daughter, who was adopted from Thailand as a 6-yr-old, is an ESL student. Spelling has been one of her challenges. One thing I have learned is to not correct everything in a letter/essay/journal entry. Pick one repetitive mistake and correct that one. Otherwise it can be overwhelming. Plus, it is easier to remember that one the next time. If there were a lot of mistakes, even if you correct and talk about each one, they are likely all to be forgotten the next time.

    • Melissa

      Great advice, Delana – thanks!

    • Melissa Shipman

      Great advice, Delana – thanks!

  • Jeni Mitchell

    My daughter was doing a combination of local school and Distance Ed Australia. Her spelling was always bad. Keeping her old journals and going through them was a good source of reminder about how far she had come. She could see her earlier errors and correct them her self.

    • Melissa Shipman

      What a good way to encourage our children regarding how far they’ve come!

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