Digital Learning

Mnemonics, animation, etymology – and even Dad dancing – help children remember spellings

Sir Linkalot spelling app won the Best Educational App at the UK BETT awards 2020. Its founder Andy Salmon explains what all the excitement is about.

Sir Linkalot is my award-winning app that is transforming how spelling is taught in schools and at home. It is brilliant for all common exception words all the way from was, two and they up to accommodation, manoeuvre and even onomatopoeia!

It uses a hugely powerful learning tool that is often overlooked. This is the mnemonic – a really tricky word to spell – which simply means a link to help you remember.

What Sir Linkalot does is to take the word off the paper and bring to life with short, beautifully crafted, animations. Have a look at this little video clip to see Sir Linkalot in action. The Future of Spelling – I just love the children’s honesty!

The animations, combined with the voice-overs of Sir Linkalot and Lady Lexicographer (played by Susie Dent from Countdown), make sure that even the trickiest spellings get lodged in the long-term memory bank. Susie is especially good on the etymology of words. So many everyday words have an interesting story to tell as this example of a ‘Susie Story” shows. Ocean – Origin

Impact

Over the last 10 years I have presented to 150,000 children (4 to 18 year olds) and 15,000 teachers at 500 schools. The app is not just about spellings. It covers all aspects of literacy: vocabulary, homophones, punctuation, grammar, rules and patterns. So, it is useful for secondary school children too and helps you meet the DfE requirements.

It has been my mission to spread the joy of linking and to sell my two books to staff and parents so the good work can continue at home and at school.

I started a daily online show a while ago called Sir Linkalot Time with twice weekly appearances from Susie. It involves lots of audience participation with children creating their own links and posting them on social media. Schools are having daily 15 minute spelling sessions calling it ‘Sir Linkalot Time’ where the teacher assigns a child to be the Sir Linkalot monitor who plays the 4 or 5 animations, freeing them up to walk around the class to help children on an individual basis. Independent learning – you’ve got to love it! Parents are given a unique code ‘gratis’ so their child can practise at home.

Why Sir Linkalot is different

Linking is a very different approach from phonics but it reaches those learners who have struggled for years with the conventional methods of learning spellings.

All too often they would learn the word for the test but it never reached their long-term memory so the next time they wanted to write it down, they would get the spelling wrong.

No one has ever tackled tricky words before and this is why it’s getting a lot of attention. Ruth Miskin CBE, founder of the UK’s number 1 phonics programme ‘’Read, Write Inc’’ tunes in to the show every day and thinks it complements her work perfectly as she has nothing, by definition for non-phonetic words, e.g. done, one and some. She was an advisor to the former Schools Minister, Nick Gibb MP. When I met him, he even volunteered a couple of links of his own!

It’s been proven that visual learning is the most effective way to retain information as the current method, rote-learning, simply doesn’t work for many students, especially those with dyslexia. Alison Walters, a teacher with dyslexia, said: ‘I am absolutely blown away by this spelling technique! As a dyslexic teacher, I know this is going to be absolute gold for my pupils. The best thing I’ve seen in years and I can’t wait to share it with them. Thank you Sir Linkalot for this wonderful gift.’

The fine details

Each bundle of 20 words (level 1 to 5) contains two types of test: a multiple choice, to ease them in, that has a couple of gimmicks on the Results page to encourage re-testing and a crossword challenge – a much more robust test as every letter needs to be correct.

The annual subscription for a parent is £49.99 and monthly is £6.99.. Schools can buy an annual licence (£2 to £5 per child, bulk-order discount – so schools can team up) to enable them to use it in class on their whiteboards (the browser version is app.sirlinkalot.org).

The app (850 App Store ratings, averaging 4.6) is achieving incredible results (case study of 1,400 children), in particular, for those students (children and adults) who find spelling an issue or those whose first language isn’t English.

Catch me and Susie in action. Hope you enjoy it – even the dad dancing! (Sir Linkalot highlights reel’) https://www.sirlinkalot.org/

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