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    • #8854



      Look at these groups of letters with similar shapes. Can you think of two more letters for each group?

      1. ‘i’ and ‘u’ shape: ‘down and round (and up)’
      2. ‘c’ and ‘e’ shape: ‘back, round, down (and up)’
      3. ‘n’ shape: down, up, round and down’

      What difficulties do you have teaching your students to write by hand?

      Post your ideas to the lesson forum and comment on other teachers’ ideas.


    • #8905

      Steven Herder
      i’ and ‘u’ shape: ‘down and round (and up)’
      2. ‘c’ and ‘e’ shape: ‘back, round, down (and up)’
      3. ‘n’ shape: down, up, round and down

      I haven’t taught how to write for over 20 years!!

      1. Maybe the letters “a” and “y”
      2. Maybe “o” and “d”
      3. Maybe “h” and “m”

      Hahaha – I found myself getting frustrated while doing this forum post. Perhaps it is time to go take a break!

    • #8938

      Barbara Bujtás

      Group 1: w, v, y
      Group 2: all the round letters, a, d, g, o, q, …
      Group 3: m, h, p

      My students already can write and heri system is Roman. They (younger learners) just hate handwriting.

    • #8939

      Rhett Burton

      1. i,u
      I want to add ‘j’ and ‘n’ to the list because when they are looking for the letters via alphabet magnets they always get confused.

      2. c and e
      I want to add ‘u’ and ‘g’ to the list because when rotated or flipped they can look similar. My students always point out these observation when manipulating letters through magnetics.

      1. n
      I agree with Barbi. My students have a hard time clarifying the difference between ‘n’ and ‘h’ in their still developing hand-writting skills.

      • #13793

        scott gray

        Just a quick question Rhett, are the letters almost the same size or is it the orientation that is the major problem?

        With kanji, hiragana, and katakana English is not that hard and almost all of my kids have it down before I see them.


      • #13798

        Rhett Burton

        With magnetics, n and u are exactly the same shape. Orientation is everything. Usually my students go through a short phases of is this a ‘u’ or an ‘n’. But once they know that they are the same, they never ask again. With Magnetics f and t can get mixed up because of the curve at the base of the ‘t’ on some letters.


      • #13800

        Good point, Rhett, about f/t which can cause some issues and is often overlooked.

        With magnetic letters, my kids also have fun with b/q, d/p and m/w as well as the quarter rotation for C/U, E/M/W, H/I, and N/Z.

        But to avoid confusion, it’s important to learn each separately first, as previously discussed.

    • #8946

      1. i, u + w, y?

      2. c, e + a, d, g, q, x?

      3. n + b, h, k, m, p, r

      Kids need to have developed the necessarily gross and fine motor skills, so it’s important to select appropriate writing implements, e.g. fat crayons -> thinner ones -> coloured pencils, pencils -> felt markers, etc.

      I avoid teaching letters that can be easily confused in the same set (e.g. ‘b’ and ‘d’, ‘p’ and ‘q’, ‘u’ and ‘n’) BUT once they have confidently learned them separately, it’s good to check they’re not still confusing them.

      One of the main challenges is to educate parents about children’s development so that they don’t needlessly worry why their child cannot write (or read) compared to their peers.

    • #11577

      Masatoshi Shoji

      2.a, d, o, g
      3.m, h

    • #11610

      Masatoshi Shoji

      I have taught all these alphabets at a junior high school.
      I’ve never had any problem although some students had problems in the early stage.
      I just ask them to write them repeatedly at home.

      I think writing kanji might be very confusing for foreigners.
      They use some guide books by which they can easily understand and write them.

      For me, writing Arabic is very challenging. I have learned the basic Arabic for a few months.
      It was very confusing. I tried to write each character again and again.

      • #11617

        Yes, writing roman letters is much easier than Chinese characters (KANJI) or, indeed, learning both HIRAGANA and KATAKANA. Writing repeatedly is, of course, essential for developing muscle memory.

        I pay attention to stroke order and direction but notice that, even among English teachers, there are inconsistencies, some of which are important if students want to then be able to learn cursive writing.

        Wow – that’s great you learned Arabic. I tried a little, too, but agree, it is really challenging. I’m impressed when I see kids here in Malaysia learning Arabic as well as Malay, Chinese, and English from kindy and primary school upwards!

    • #11618

      These days, fortunately, we can find instructional videos on Youtube though we have to check their quality at times:

    • #13792

      scott gray

      For group 1, w and a. a especially as in most the only difference with u is whether the top is closed or not.

      group 2, d and q.

      group 3, m and h. For h I like to compare the h, n, r and draw 3 h’s then just erase on the whiteboard to show the difference.

      For me at higher education have not had many problems except for some who have been taught letters together that bring interference. Example b and d here in Japan at least. But here again, a trick by drawing a loop to the top of b and d that shows it becomes the capital letter or the top half can show what the capital letter is so they stop confusing them. Yeah mostly neatness and learning to stay on a line are the problems I see at secondary levels.


      • #13797

        Nice idea to show the differences with h, n, and r – I think I’ll have to borrow that one, too, next time! 😉

        With young learners, even with English as their L1, b and d often cause problems. I use 2 tricks to help, starting with having them make a b with their left hand and mirror it with a on their right hand. They can then imagine the missing in the middle as they hold their hands in front of them.

        I like your idea with capital B, too, and will add that. There are other good suggestions here, too, for young learners:

    • #13799

      Rhett Burton

      I often have students writing letters backward – especially j, s, and z.
      I often believe it is because students have not mastered the directions used for writing each letter pattern.

      • #13801

        Good to remember that letter reversals occur as a normal part of development, and are seen in many kids until first or second grade. Sometimes parents worry if their kids are dyslexic so it can be good to point this out if needed.

        If letter reversals continue with L1 kids into 3rd grade, it may be in part “due to a weak memory, the lack of enough previous experiences, or a lack of left-right awareness.” So where English is an additional language and students use a very different script (e.g. Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, etc), we need to factor this in.

        Letter reversals…what’s “normal”?

    • #13813

      Jessica Sohn

      For group 1, maybe w? And group 2, o, d, and a. For group 3, I’d say h and m too.
      Mostly with my foundations class (first and second graders), they enjoy writing letters. Although, I’ve had kids who needed extra practice in developing fine motor skills. But as they practice, I’ve seen great improvement. I also see a lot of the kids writing their j, p, q, and s backwards, too. I agree and see it’s normal since it’s so different to their L1(Korean).

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