|dc.description.abstract||The social environment we live in today is exceptionally informal. In the past the type of language the learners used, as well as their spelling ability, gave an indication of the type of education they had received. In present times, it often occurs that people are judged according to their spelling ability to determine whether the specific person is suitable for a certain career. People only realise the importance of writing and spelling correctly once they have completed their studies and started working (often this is too late).This leads to distress and problem situations in universities and schools because learners cannot read and spell. Because of globalization, young people today regard English as the global language. This opens doors for them and the use of English is becoming easier. The result is that Afrikaans is also becoming more informal and this is expressed in the learners' writing and spelling ability. Learners' spelling therefore is atrocious. Decline in language and spelling usage is the result of little (or no) education in spelling in general and also because learners give so little attention to reading lately.
Research indicates that students and learners experience the "no rules" of poor spelling (also due to SMS language) as a freeing experience and they do not realise the seriousness of speaking, writing and reading standard Afrikaans. The youth regard this era we live in as "cool" and they believe that it protects them against the embarrassment of poor spelling.
A finger is often pointed at educators because learners can no longer read and spell. Educators complain that learners have a "couldn't care less" attitude towards correct spelling. Learners use a telegram style for writing, and poor spelling increasingly occurs in creative writing. They ruin their writing skills with bad spelling. Learners no longer have a general knowledge of spelling words and in this way their poor spelling skills are further weakened. "Upsetting spelling problems" originate because learners are not made aware of the phonemes of sounds from an early age and educators are ignorant of how to develop these awareness skills in learners. In the light of these statements one would expect that educators would have received the necessary guidance concerning spelling methods and strategies for teaching and educating spelling. However, the opposite is true as indicated in the literature, namely that educators often have to depend on their own experience to develop several aspects, for instance to develop phonemic awareness in learners so as to ensure success in spelling. Educators discuss learners, their own successes, etcetera but they never discuss the methods they use. The young and inexperienced educator must depend on book-knowledge, personal initiatives, trial and error as well as spontaneous methods to teach spelling.
In this study, attention is focused on the link between phoneme awareness and the spelling ability of learners, especially in the Foundation Phase. To achieve the aim of this study the spelling ability of a group of Grade 3 learners was studied using various tests over a certain period of time. The results showed that learners who have no or very little phonemic awareness also do not possess the necessary spelling skills. This study indicates the importance of phonemic awareness as determinant for good spelling. Consequently a definite link exists between phonemic awareness and spelling. From the empirical study that was conducted it became very clear that the level of phonemic awareness and spelling achievement is determined by the education process and the involvement of the educator. Valid theoretical principles were discussed to highlight the necessity of this aspect.
Language gatekeepers and educators, especially in the Foundation Phase, thus have an enormous task to develop phoneme awareness from an early age in learners so that they can become aware of the importance of correct spelling.||