Teaching verb spelling through explicit direct instruction
Keywords:verb spelling, spelling instruction, EDI, grammar, homophony
Homophonous verb forms are notoriously difficult to spell. Two intervention studies - one with secondary-school students and one with university students - compared the effectiveness of an Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) teaching approach that was very interactive with traditional instruction (TI) on Dutch homophonous verb spelling. The two approaches differ in the attention dedicated to the identification of the grammatical functions of verb forms and in the teacher’s guidance of the students, which affects the interactivity during the classes. Students were pre-tested and post-tested on their knowledge of grammar and spelling of homophonous verb forms embedded in sentences. Both the EDI and the TI courses consisted of 4.5 hours of training. Secondary-school students’ verb-spelling performance improved, irrespective of the type of instruction. University students’ verb-spelling performance increased after both interventions, probably resulting from their improved grammatical knowledge. Importantly, the EDI students’ performance increased more than the TI students’ performance because the EDI students had learnt to rely more on their grammatical knowledge or make better use of their increased grammatical mastery. These results are in line with our hypothesis that the explicit interactivity that is inherent to EDI is beneficial for teaching verb spelling to students beyond primary-school level, who already possess some grammatical knowledge.
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