Why bother about spelling?

  • Spelling is still very important, even in the age of Spell-checkers that seem to do the job for you so effortlessly.
  • Being able to spell is a skill that is valued by employers, as is being able to work with numbers without a calculator, or wearing formal clothes to an interview. Your attention to spelling is a highly visible part of your image of yourself as a writer.
  • Always using the Spell-checker may make you lazy and certainly won't help you when you are producing a hand-written product, as in the end-of-year exams, when you will be working under pressure and won't have time to check a dictionary.

How do you know whether you can spell?

qwater.gif Try this test then this online quiz

What can you do if spelling is a weakness for you?

  • One method that works well is 'Look, say, cover, say, write and check'
    • Look at the shape of the word. Can you see any patterns or groups of letters that go together? Are there any words within words?
    • Say the words carefully and slowly to yourself. Try to listen for the sounds in the words.
    • Cover the word. Try to picture the word in your mind, closing your eyes might help you to do this.
    • Say the word to yourself again and then.....
    • Write the word down.
    • Check to see if it is correct. If the word isn't quite right don't worry, just try again. It may take a few attempts to get it right. Keep trying until you get the word correct 5 times in a row.
  • Try out the Have-a-Go spelling strategy:
    • Set up a table format on paper, with four "spelling" columns in it. Use the sheet while completing a writing assignment.
    • In the first column you list any words that someone else identifies are misspelled, as you originally spelled them. Ask someone to go over the list and put ticks over the parts of each words that is correct and underline the parts that need to be fixed.
    • In the second and third columns “Have-a-Go” at spelling the word a different way and then ask someone to tick correct and underline misspelled letters again.
    • By the time you reach the fourth column, you will be spelling most of the words correctly.
    • This strategy encourages you to think about the way a word is spelled and recognise your own mistakes while taking independent steps to fix them.
  • Make Word Chunks. Chunking involves breaking words into small, easily remembered parts.
    • Chunk single syllable words into individual sound units, called phonemes/graphemes, like great - gr / ea / t - .
    • Chunk multi-syllable words into the individual syllables eg fantastic into fan / tas / tic.
    • This strategy is helpful for remembering spelling or new vocabulary words.
    • Look for small words within large words - fan is in fantastic.
    • Look for similarities of words and similar letter groupings - great is a "gr" word and a "ea" word.
  • Make word families. This visual strategy helps you to see the similarities of words when they are in their families.
    • Make a chart at home and keep adding words to the list as you come across new words.
    • Have a word of the day and come up with as many words in its spelling family as you can. For example, make families for beginnings like gr, sh, ph, bl, and end sounds st, ss, dd, ing. Make word families for vowel combinations like ea, oa, ee, ai, ou and for problem combinations like –ough, -eir, -cei. Look for families like arrive/arrival; depart/departure; suit/suitcase/suited
  • Read-aloud software may be useful for reading your own writing back to you. If the word is wrong, the text reader will read it wrongly and you will immediately see what you need to fix.
  • Studying Phonics may be helpful to understand how particular blends or clusters of letters like -ice, -ough or -au work together to represent particular sounds in words ( this is called phonic blends). Consonants and vowels quite frequently occur in English in blended form.
  • Extensive research shows that Old Way New Way also works very well because it does not insult your intelligence by treating you like a small child. This method takes each word you spell wrongly and shows you how it ought to look, so that you can see the difference and work out what is going wrong.

What resources might help you with spelling?

Try some of these links to see what provides some useful help