Can you read better than you can spell? This is a common experience in English, and a question I get asked frequently, so how does that happen? The answer is that for reading the student has progressed from breaking down words into word recognition, where you simply recognise the whole word. Now for a little neuroscience; in this sketch you will see that we recognise words in the Word Form Area, which is part of the Occipital Lobe, where we keep all our pictures. For students who can read better than spell this is great news, they are already picturing words, at a subconscious level.
For those who can’t spell the same word they can read, they are focusing their spelling in the frontal cortex, that is exhausting and will cause many errors. That works for a perfectly phonetic language (e.g. Italian is a transparent language), but for English you need a mental image of the word to cope with our homophones, silent letters, etc.
But think about this; if every word you want to spell is one that you have already been able to read through word recognition, we know it is already in your Word Form Area. Empowering Learning teaches students to also use mental images, from the Word Form Area, for spelling and once you start developing these neural pathways, it is but a simple step to say, “I just read this word, what are the letters, I can picture on the page?” Hey presto, you can spell the same words you can read.