Does she read a lot? In my experience, most poor spellers are infrequent readers - no intention of offense, just that people who read widely and frequently have a wide example of good spelling before them.
Doesn’t account for me. I have always been an avid reader, at least a book every week or two since before high school. (35 years or so) Posting on line with a computer spell checker has helped a lot, meaning I make fewer and fewer errors for it to catch. If you search out some of my dope posts from years back, you’ll see how bad I used to be. Sometimes it takes me 2-3 tries before I get close enough that the spell checker can suggest the correct spelling though.
It is something about the way my brain is wired. I can’t look up a word in the dictionary without reciting the ABC song to know if r comes before or after k. Those word search puzzles with the letters in a grid take me easily 5-10 times as long to complete as most people. Teachers used to give those out as a “reward” assignment…HAH! I think when I read, I see whole words, not letters, or even groups of letters, if that makes sense.
I read a ton and have since I was very young, and I can’t spell for shit. I just don’t notice it–I don’t see it when others misspell things, either. Also, like Kevbo, the alphabet song is my friend. It really hasn’t caused a lot of problems in my life–spell check is everywhere now.
It have been a prodigious reader since around eight or nine years old, and my spelling is atrocious. Sure, spellcheckers help, and now and then I get a “No misspelled words” and I cheer out loud. The embarrassing thing is that in my old age, the spellcheckers still show me words I have been misspelling for years. Damn!
Oddly enough, a good part of my career entailed writing. Back in the old days when I used a typewriter, it was horrible to have to stop, erase and retype, so computers have saved my ass.
I think it is probably due, to a great extent, to me being too lazy to bother looking words up in a dictionary.
I take comfort in the fact that Ernest Hemingway was a terrible speller also.
And yet, many of us notice most of the time when we run across a misspelled word, so part of what we see when we “see the whole word” is its spelling.
I’m a pretty good speller, but I don’t know how much of that is due to what kind of brain I was blessed with, how much is due to what and how I was taught, and how much is due to practice. I can tell you that, from an early age, I’ve done a lot of things like crosswords and word search puzzles that force you to pay attention to the way things are spelled, but I don’t know whether correlation implies causation or which way the causation goes.
Yes and no. It’s like recognizing your friend even if he has a noticeable cut on his face. You see the totality of the face first, and then the cut as something extra. The fact that you still know what the word is even though it’s misspelled (up to a point) indicates you are not reading each letter individually. And, if you show people misspelled words on a flashcard, letting them see the words only for a fraction of a second, most people don’t see the misspelling.
In this sense, each word is like a Kanji, once you become familiar with it. You read the word just like a Japanese person will read a Kanji.
It goes beyond recognizing each word on its own. Unless the words are really long, the eye can pick up more than a single word. When we read a line of text, the point of focus of our eyes pauses multiple time as it passes across the page. It moves very quickly between pauses. Each time it pauses, the brain is able to process information at and to either side of the point of focus. It’s pretty easy to track eye movement during reading. The eyes of young children, as well as of adults who suffered from childhood vision problems or poor education, will pause frequently as the eye passes across the page, sometimes multiple time per word, and often with backtracking if something didn’t get picked up correctly. As children get more practice, the eye pauses fewer times on a line of text. Gradually, whole words and eventually word clusters are taken in at each pause of the eye. However, not everyone gets to this point. In fact, there are many adults who still have to “say” each word in their head as they read, or who are incapable of reading faster than they can say the words aloud.
That doesn’t mean lack of reading doesn’t contribute to the problem described in OP. However, as several readers have pointed out, increased reading isn’t a guaranteed path to better spelling skills. For me, typing has helped my spelling. When I was 13 or so, I starting playing Gemstone III (now IV) on AOL (now not on AOL). It’s a text-based fantasy game, so there was a whole lot of “put sword in my backpack” and “search behind boulder”. Pretty basic stuff, but it’s hard to kill badguis(;)) if the software can’t understand what you want to swing your sword at. It also helped me type faster. I still suck at spelling, but that and constantly writing papers (with auto-red-squiggle turned on in my word processing software) have resulted in marked improvement. Maybe she could type up a short journal entry each day.
This is all assuming that she care about becoming a better speller. Many poor spellers do not, which makes it difficult to improve.