Five Tips for Spelling Words with Silent Letters

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  1. The key to remembering how to spell words with silent letters is, unfortunately, the same as that for remembering all spellings: practise, practise, practise! Here are Spellzone, we know that the ‘Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check’ method of learning and testing spelling provides results, and here are some of our other top spelling tips.
  2. Some silent letters were pronounced hundred years ago, but over the years, because the words were difficult to say, some of the sounds died out. Get into the habit of pronouncing silent letters in your head whenever you think of the word. When taking a Spellzone Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check test, click on the loudspeaker icon to hear how the word is pronounced and then repeat the word aloud. When you say a word, listen out for if it sounds differently to how it’s spelt. Then say the word exactly how it’s spelt (including silent letters) to help fix it in your memory.
  3. Look up the etymology of the word you are learning to spell. Knowing a little bit about a word can really help when trying to remember how to spell it later. For example, knowing the word ‘plumber’ comes from the Latin ‘plumbum’ meaning ‘lead (the metal), lead ball; pipe’ might help you remember that sneaky ‘b’. Click here to read about Latin word roots and here to read about Greek word roots.
  4. Link the word with another to help you hear and remember the silent letter. For example: Christmas – Christ, crumb – crumble, sign – signal.
  5. Come up with a mnemonic that puts the word with a silent letter in a sentence with other words beginning with that letter. For example: Warren wrestled well.

    Alternatively, come up with a mnemonic that puts lots of words with the same silent letter into one sentence. For example: I know I can’t knit knickers with a knife on my knobbly knees.

    Mnemonics work better if they are personal to the user. Use the names of people you know and places you’ve been to help trigger your memory – and the ruder a mnemonic, the better! Click here for our tips for creating mnemonics.

Unit 22 covers silent letters. If you are not a register user, click here for more information on how to sign up for a subscription and here to learn more about out new Spelling Ability Test.

Do get in touch if you have any questions about spelling and grammar – we’ll address your questions in future blog posts. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Have a good week!

19 Jan 2016
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