Karen Mcghie

Integrating Phonics and Spelling with Teenage Learners

In this talk, teachers will learn about the principles of a synthetic phonics approach to teaching reading and writing. They will consider how to apply these in classes of teenage learners. They will also analyse the common misconceptions surrounding spelling in English and be given some practical ideas on how to work with phonics when approaching spelling issues.


By the end of the talk, teachers will have assessed how spelling and pronunciation are linked and how a synthetic phonics approach can be used with teenage learners. They will also consider how spelling issues affect students of this age and think about common errors that students are likely to make. They will analyse the results of action research conducted with teenage learners and consider the cause of error in the most common misspellings. They will be given practical ideas on how they can overcome these in class and will have the chance to share their own experiences and ideas with other teachers.

• Introduce topic

Present the main points and outline of the talk.

• What is phonics?

Analysis of main principles of synthetic phonics and its use in the classroom with younger learners.

• How phonics works

Reference to the system of synthetic phonics and how this relates to spelling.

• Spelling difficulties

Brief reference to research conducted around the spelling system in English.

• How spelling affects other skills

What effects these spelling difficulties have on our learners in different skills.

• Spelling issues for teenage learners

Analysis of the findings of research conducted with teenage learners and common spelling mistakes made.

• Practical implementation in the classroom

Specific activities that teachers can use in class with teenage learners and how some synthetic phonics activities can be adapted.

• Conclusions/questions

Teachers will be given the chance to ask any questions that they have about the topic or any activities they have seen in the talk.


Karen McGhie is Head of Teacher Training and Development and has a degree in French with TESOL from the University of Exeter. She’s taught English since 2014 and completed the Trinity DipTESOL in 2016. Before coming to live in San Sebastián, she lived and worked in Logroño and her hometown of London. She is also a CELTA tutor and presenter.