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Five Steps to Spelling Peace of Mind

Last updated 2 years ago

There are well over a million words in the English language. The good news is that we don't have to spell them all! It's the words we use often - the ones we have to keep looking up - that are mostly responsible for our "shaky" spelling skills. Concentrate on these words when you use the following suggestions:

List it
Each time you have to check the spelling of a word, or blush when somebody points out a spelling error in your email, put that word on a list. This may be tedious at first, but once you make it a habit, it becomes easy.

Try some of these ways to make your list effective:

  • Separate the list into word groups that have a common element. For example, if you have laughable, legible, knowledgeable, and plausible on your list, you can separate them into an "able" group and an "ible" group.
  • After each word, rewrite it as separate syllables. For example, "to get her" is easier to remember than together.

Practice it
A few times a week, give the words on your list a workout, using just a few of them each time.

- Spell a word in your mind, paying attention to its syllables and the part that gives you trouble such as "one T or two T's." This is useful for homonyms like their/there and road/rode as well.

- Write out each word on your list. Writing a word, especially in cursive, helps implant the order of its letters in your mind.

- Say the word aloud, stressing its syllables or the troublesome parts.

- Test yourself. Use flashcards, have someone else read the words for you to spell, or make up a test of sentences with blanks for the words on your list.

Imagine it
Create a mnemonic device - an image that reminds you of the word and helps you understand its meaning. This image can be an idea like this: The word "there" contains its opposite "here." Or, it can be an actual picture that you find, draw, or take with your camera.

Use your word and picture images to make flashcards for the words on your list. Write each word on one side of its own card. On the other side, add syllable divisions of the word. If it is a new word for you, add a definition that makes sense to you and a sentence that helps you understand the meaning in context. If it helps you to memorize a spelling rule such as which words end in "sion" or "tion," write the applicable rule on your flashcard, too.

Take it with you
Riding the bus, waiting for an appointment, or just plain bored? Practice your spelling!

  • Take your flashcards with you wherever you go.
  • Put your word lists and pictures of your flashcards on your phone or tablet.
  • Look up words on your phone or tablet browser just for fun!

Reinforce it
Make a second word list. Use it for the words you've mastered. Give it a name like "My Success List." After you've tested yourself and are confident of a word's spelling, move it onto that list. Read the list over occasionally to reinforce spelling and congratulate yourself.

Make up your mind to break free from the "bad speller" label. By making word-awareness part of your life and practicing your skills, you will be on your way to new confidence. You can do it!

The staff at The Literacy & Language Center will be happy to talk with you about the ways we can help your child with spelling and other literacy skills.

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