It is possible to divide the errors made by children with specific spelling difficulty into a number of types. There is more than one process that may be involved in producing each type of spelling error, and so one must be careful not to regard each type of error as indicative of only one type of defect. For example, so-called ‘phonetic errors’ may be a result of problems with phoneme-to-grapheme conversion, but may also be owing to the child not attending to sounds, or not being able to discriminate between the different sounds he hears.
It should also be noted that individual children with specific spelling difficulty often show a combination of these errors, and that many show inconsistency in their errors from one moment to the next.
Nevertheless, if used in conjunction with careful assessment, identification of the type of error may be a useful guide to finding appropriate ways of helping a child with specific spelling difficulty.
These errors are very common in children with specific spelling difficulty. Phonetic errors will have some visual resemblance to the correct spelling, but sound different when read. For example, the child may write ‘lap’ for ‘lip’, or ‘goase’ for ‘goose’. These errors suggest that the phonological system is not functioning properly. Such children often have difficulties with reading because of this impairment.