kitchen table math, the sequel: Schonell spelling test

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Schonell spelling test

In the wake of last night's comeuppance (scroll down to 3rd comment), I decided to give C. the 100-word Schonell spelling test (pdf file) today (here it is without directions - pdf file).*

C. turns 15 at the end of the summer; his "spelling age" today is 13.5 13.8 years.**

words missed:
portmanteau (almost got that one - !)

Since I have nothing to compare this to (how would most American 14 year-olds fare on this test?) I'm declaring this a 'perfectly acceptable' performance.

'Perfectly acceptable' meaning: I'm thinking by the time C. graduates high school he will easily have reached Spelling Age 15, which is 100% correct.

The good news: all of his misspellings were phonetically correct, if phonetically correct is the term I'm looking for, which I'm not sure it is. e.g.: He spelled "amateur" amature. That kind of thing.

He starts an intensive 3-year French sequence in the fall, so that should help.

Lousia Moats on the English writing system
In addition, the English writing system reveals the history of the English language. For example, ch pronounced as /ch/, as in chair or chief, appears in Anglo-Saxon or Old English words; the same letter combination ch pronounced as /sh/, as in chef and chauffeur, appears in French words of Latin origin; and ch pronounced as /k/, as in ache and orchid, appears in words borrowed from Greek. Approximately 20 percent to 25 percent of English words are of Anglo-Saxon origin and about 60 percent are of Latin origin (of which 50 percent are directly from Latin and another 10 percent are from Latin through French, as in chef and chauffeur). The
remaining 15 to 20 percent of English words are primarily of Greek origin.

How Words Cast Their Spell by Louisa Moats
American Educator - Winter 2008-2009, pp. 6-16 & 42-43

* posted at the Reading Reform Foundation

** simple arithmetic eludes me (thank you, Michael Weiss) - and, yes, the formula is weird - not sure quite what's to the right of the decimal point


Anonymous said...

Aren't some English pronunciations and spellings also attributable to the Danish influence from the Viking invaders?

Catherine Johnson said...

I think they are -- right?

Catherine Johnson said...

hmmm...just checked McGuinness & don't see anything about it - but don't know if I would...

Michael Weiss said...

8.6 = 8.7 (converted to twelfths)

The spelling test may be okay, but the math is horrific.

Catherine Johnson said...

wait - did I do it wrong??

let me check...

Anonymous said...

Here's a Google Books link for you. Starting on p. 74 of "Spelling" by Peter Westwood, is a description of the South Australian Spelling Test, including two versions of the test and the tables that convert raw scores into spelling ages.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh fantastic!

Thanks so much!

(C. thanks you, too. In advance.)

Michael Weiss said...

did I do it wrong?

Depends on what you mean by it.
8.6 is "8 and 6 tenths". 6 tenths is (roughly) 7 twelfths -- that is, if you round to the nearest twelfth, 0.6 is approximately 7/12. But to write "8 and 7/12" as "8.7" is a misuse of the decimal system.

I guess you could use 8.7 to mean "8 and 7/12" if you are writing in base 12 rather than base 10. Maybe that's what you meant by "converted to twelfths". But then "8 years, 10 months" would have to be written 8.A, and that's just silly. :)

Interestingly, there doesn't seem to be a standard notation for "x years, y months" -- that's what you were probably looking for. We use the colon separator for time (hr:mm:ss), and the single and double apostrophe for linear distance (6'3"). We also use the single and double apostrophe (together with the degree symbol) for angle and arc measure, which is funny when you think about the fact that degrees are subdivided into units called "minutes" and "seconds".

But there's no notation for "8 years, 7 months".