Spell-It-Out Survey: Practicing Oral Spelling

There are plenty of times when we must either ask or provide the spelling of a word, so being able to say and identify letter names is a very practical skill. Here’s a communicative activity that gives students meaningful opportunities to use English letter names:

Levels: High Beginner – Intermediate

STEP 1 – Review the letter names. If possible, you and your students can watch an online presentation on this topic. For example, AccentMasterLynn (a speech therapist) offers a four-minute lesson on YouTube.  It would also be helpful to demonstrate the use of indefinite articles with letter names, clarifying the rules for use of A and AN. 

STEP 2 – Prepare a list of 4-5 questions to learn personal background information. Focus on questions that require only a one-word answer (names, not numbers). Students may contribute to the list. Suggestions:

What’s your last name?                               

Where were you born?/ What’s your hometown?

                What’s your mother’s first name?

                What street do you live on?

STEP 3 – Give the students 10-15 minutes to talk to as many classmates as possible. They need to ask one another the questions and confirm the spelling of all answers. Remind them of appropriate ways to do this: How do you spell that? Do you spell that with a C or a K? Etc. Answers should be recorded in their notebooks.

STEP 4 – Gather as a whole class again. Check their findings by asking volunteers to answer your questions about random students in the class: “Who knows Frank’s mother’s name? Can you spell it for me? …Is that right, Frank?”

STEP 5 – Remind students of sources they can use to hear correct letter names. Many online dictionaries provide this audio feature. For example: Dictionary.com



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