Learn to write: “care for parents understandable but unfounded”

The discussion about the best way to learn to write divides entire generations of parents and educators. Are there right and wrong methods? We spoke to the professor for German language, literature and didactics Erika Brinkmann about her position on “sound” writing.

How did you get the idea of ​​introducing "writing by ear" as a learning method to write?

There is no such thing as the “writing by ear” method, which is a misunderstanding. The children do not write by ear; instead, they use speech to orient themselves. They try to structure the phonetic chain of the spoken word in order to assign suitable letters to the speech sounds. To do this, they use a startup table. This makes sense, since our writing system is alphabetical in focus: from just 26 characters and combinations of characters, every conceivable word can be constructed legibly. However, there is no 1: 1 relationship between the sounds and the letters in German, so that the norms of German orthography have to be learned gradually.

This is a different method of thinking. Proponents say u. a., through them, children would read faster and prefer and thus also like to write. Opponents fear that spelling mistakes may be difficult to correct. What say she?

Many parents’ concern that children could memorize something wrong with their up-to-the-minute spellings, which do not yet meet all orthographic standards, is understandable, in my opinion, but is unfounded. When writing loudly, the children reconstruct every word each time. The fact that these spellings do not get stuck in the children’s heads is impressively demonstrated by the variations that the children find time and again. B. Fahrat, Fahrrat, Farrat. In practice situations, however, which aim to consciously remember words, it is of course essential that the words are spelled correctly here, otherwise mistakes will actually be trained.

Where do you see the decisive advantages of this method compared to other learning paths?

Children who are introduced to writing with one of the typical reading and writing courses can only read and write independently after they have learned all the letters – and this is usually the case only after more than a year of teaching. Writing with a startup table not only helps the children, with the alphabetical principle to understand the basis of our orthographic system, but also gives them the opportunity to use the font for themselves right from the start. You will learn that the writing is information for yourself and other hold on and also forward and that you can also access texts independently. Right from the start, the children are given a tool with which they can use the font functionally.

Which studies prove the "success" of writing out loud?

Since the 1970s, there have been numerous well-documented studies on the acquisition of written language, all of which describe sound-oriented writing as an essential development phase. In addition, studies from recent years clearly demonstrate that this alphabetical phase is indispensable as the basis for further orthographic development. The following applies to sound writing across all examinations: The more complete children write the sound sequence in the first class, the better their spelling is in grades 2 and 3. Particularly important for me is the realization that learning to read and write is a development of thinking and we can best promote learning by giving the children insight into the structure and structure of our writing system. Above all, however, it is always overwhelming to experience the joy of the children when they write down their first words and sentences and learn that others can read their message!

Not every method is suitable for all children …

If this means that there are children who should not teach them the function and the alphabetical structure of our writing, I would strongly disagree. Without understanding the alphabetical principle of our writing, one cannot achieve the goal of gaining the highest possible level of competence in the field of (legal) writing. However, this goal is a lifelong one – spelling skills are not fully developed at the end of primary school, but develop over a lifetime. And this includes the alphabetical phase in the course of the development of the written language.

How can educators support children even better?

For orthographic learning, which is based on the alphabetical phase, teachers should have a large repertoire of approaches and support options. For some children, the division of long words into syllables is helpful when reading and writing, while others benefit more by looking at the meaningful root morphemes. Some children have to practice passwords 25 times, others only three times. <<

To person

Erika Brinkmann is a professor of German language, literature and didactics at the University of Education in Schwäbisch Gmünd, state chair of the elementary school association in Baden-Württemberg and deputy federal chair of the elementary school association and editor of the ABC learning landscape.


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Christina Cherry
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