Auditory Processing and Spelling: How Are They Connected?

When you hear a new word for the first time, do you try to spell it? Often, it is easier to read a new word than it is to spell it. Auditory processing is the process of how your ears receive information and the steps involved to recognize or understand that information. Spelling integrates letter knowledge and phonological awareness (the ability to identify, manipulate, and use sounds of oral language) together. It is the ability to match the sounds that you hear to letters. Reading is the decoding of words, whereas spelling is the encoding of words. When you work on improving spelling, you inherently improve reading.

Areas of Auditory Perception

Auditory Processing and Spelling: The Reading Connection

We process information by hearing, seeing, and doing. Each of those systems is critical to our ability to learn.

Auditory processing skills are foundational for learning to read and spell. Phonemic awareness and phonics are the first steps in learning to read as well as spell. Both phonemic awareness and phonics depend on the auditory system. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds – phonemes – in spoken words. Phonics is the ability to accurately relate an auditory sound to a visual symbol such as a letter or letters. This is exactly what we do when we spell.

We hear in order to learn and understand. Auditory processing or perception then is the ability to hear, understand, and use what you have heard. Spelling then uses what you have heard to place the correct letters with the sounds they represent. This process is also known as encoding.

According to Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children by Catherine E. Snow, M. Susan Burns, and Peg Griffin, Editors, “Skilled readers develop a knowledge of spelling patterns and specific word identification strategies. They also have automatic word retrieval (fluency).”

Areas of Auditory Processing that are Integral to Spelling

Auditory-Visual Integration

This is the ability to accurately relate an auditory sound to a visual symbol.

Auditory Closure

An auditory processing area that affects spelling. This is the ability to combine sounds that are presented orally to make words. For instance, when given the individual sounds: c, a, and t; auditory closure is the ability to bring those individual sounds together to make the word cat. It is also the ability to ‘fill in’ the missing piece of a word. For example, if I were to say ‘po _a to‘, you would be able to fill in the missing ‘t‘ and say ‘potato‘.

Auditory Discrimination

The ability to discriminate between words that are similar or different in the way they sound e.g.: mob and mop; very and berry; scream and stream; mesh and mush.

Auditory Figure-Ground

The ability to attend to instruction or someone talking when there is background noise. Can you pay attention to what is being said? Or, are you distracted by the background noises?

These are four of the nine areas of auditory processing that impact spelling and reading.

Summer Reading Program incorporates 9 Areas of Auditory Processing

Bonnie Terry’s Summer Reading program uses proven methods that improve your auditory processing system:

  1. Reading Fluency Training that Incorporates Phonemic Awareness
  2. Rapid Naming Activities
  3. Phonics and Spelling Video Lessons
  4. Auditory Memory Activities
  5. Auditory Discrimination Activities
  6. Auditory Figure-Ground Activities

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Who is Bonnie Terry?

Bonnie Terry is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of BonnieTerryLearning.com. Terry is an expert in developing learning programs that target how people learn through the visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic processing systems. Terry coaches teachers and parents so they can give their child a 2 to 4-year learning advantage in just 45-60 minutes a day. She is a frequent media guest and speaker.