Simultaneous Oral Spelling, also known as S.O.S., is a multisensory spelling strategy that is really effective for poor spellers and dyslexics. The strategy builds phonological awareness skills, an area that is often a huge deficit in poor spellers and dyslexics.
Research has shown that simultaneous oral spelling is a very effective multisensory spelling method for dyslexics. I will link to a few studies below:
- The teaching of spelling using techniques of simultaneous oral spelling and visual inspection
- Early spelling acquisition: Writing beats the computer.
- The Organisation of Motor Patterns for Spelling: an Effective Remedial Strategy for Backward Readers
S.O.S. is a pretty simple strategy that can be used whole class, in small groups, and one on one. Since it has the benefit of building phonological awareness it’s a great spelling technique to teach all students from the beginning. What I love about it is that you model the technique a few times and students can then do it completely on their own.
S.O.S. has 6 steps:
- The teacher dictates the word to the student(s). Students need to pay special attention to the formation of the word on the lips.
- Student(s) repeat back the word. It can help to provide a mirror for proper mouth formation.
- Student(s) sound out the word using a finger for each sound, starting with the thumb. They need to say each sound out loud as they lift each finger. Elkonin boxes can be helpful here if this task is too difficult for students.
- Student(s) spell the word out loud using a finger for each letter as in step 3. They need to say the letter out loud as they hold up a finger.
- Student(s) will write the word down, saying each letter as they write it.
- Student(s) read back the word aloud.
I created a set that includes a reference sheet with all the steps and task cards, pictured below. Click the image to purchase via my TpT shop.
I cut and laminate the task cards so that each student has one for reference. I also keep the reference sheet for myself in my spelling binder to use with students one on one, or to share with parents.
It is very important that students follow this procedure exactly as written. You cannot let them slip up even once! In my experience, students will get away with whatever they can especially with steps like this so be careful.
Using Simultaneous Oral Spelling One on one
This is most commonly used as a spelling intervention in tutoring sessions. Ideally, you give students 6-12 words and take around 10 minutes to complete the activity.
You are checking to see if they are using the spelling rules you have taught them so only use words with spelling rules you have already explicitly taught. If you see the student is making mistakes then you know you need to revisit that spelling pattern and provide more practice.
Using Simultaneous Oral Spelling In The Classroom
As a classroom teacher, it can be difficult to use this as a whole group strategy since not all students know the same spelling rules. It would work best with controlled spelling lists but in my experience, it is rare that schools use controlled lists.
If you don’t use controlled lists, then ensure you are teaching spelling rules when you assign the list each week. This method does not work if students do not know the spelling rules of the words they are spelling.
I would model this method when reviewing spelling words. You could do the steps as a class for the first 3-4 words, then allow students to do the rest on their own. Walk around and ensure proper procedure is being followed as it is very important for this to be successful.
After a few weeks of students having practiced with you present to make error corrections, you could make this a center activity, small group intervention, or even assign it as review homework to prepare for the weekly spelling test. It’s also easy to have parents do with their children.
Again, this works best if students actually know the spelling rules so make sure you’re actually teaching them and not just assigning spelling words to be done as homework without any actual instruction in the rules.
If you’re looking for more spelling tips, check out these other posts:
- Spelling Strategies For Spelling Lists
- Phonemic Awareness Activities For Struggling Readers
- All About The Closed Syllable
- Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers – Elkonin Boxes
- Multisensory Strategies for B & D Reversals – Dyslexia Intervention