Five tips for teaching spelling

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  1. Make sure your student knows that they are not alone.
    Finding spelling difficult to get to grips with does not mean that someone is stupid. In fact, some of the world’s cleverest people have struggled with English spelling. Why not organise a research project on successful people and what they have accomplished despite finding spelling hard? Your students might be surprised at how many there are and the variety of fields that they have excelled in.
  2. Recommend that your student starts a SPELLING LOG.
    Whilst your student is certainly not alone in finding spelling difficult, it is important to remember that not everyone will find the same words hard. Students should create spelling logs that are personal to the words they find difficult and also for any specific words that they might need to know (for example a student studying Biology would need to know different words to the ones a student studying English might need to know). Spelling Logs are useful for practising in those odd quieter moments– just looking at the words will help.
  3. Encourage your students to practise spellings using as many senses as they can:

    LOOK closely at the word. Try and remember how the letters are positioned on the page.

    Sometimes if you spell a word in a few different ways, one of the spellings will LOOK more familiar than the others. It might be worth suggesting that students keep a scrap of paper to hand to do this on – often it is possible to tell which word ‘just looks right’, for example toylet vs. toilet or tois vs. toys.

    Don’t forget to remind students that words may also be close to hand – for example on a worksheet, or in a textbook or dictionary. If they can recognise the shape of words, they will be able to use these aids to help them find the correct spelling.

    Try thinking about the SOUND of the word – this might give you a clue about how to spell it.

    When practicing the word, both writing it and typing it out can be helpful. FEEL how the pen moves on the page, or where the letters are on the keyboard. After a while hands will train themselves to automatically create the shapes of certain words.
  4. Encourage your students to read as much as possible.
    They don’t necessarily need to read books – reading anything will help memorise the look of common spelling patterns. This can include reading food packets, instruction manuals, comics and road signs!
  5. Use word games as part of your lessons.
    There are many word games that can help with spelling: Scrabble requires you to create words out of a random selection of letters, whilst Hangman requires you to guess letters to make a word. Mnemonics are another fun way of training your memory to retain spellings – use rhymes, pictures, and jokes to liven up lessons. And, of course, don’t forget to use our own Word Games on Spellzone!


06 May 2013
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"Thank goodness for Spellzone during this remote learning phase. The site is easy for students to navigate independently and they're really enjoying the activities and spelling games. You get an awful lot for your money with Spellzone. Really reassuring is the very prompt response with helpdesk queries. I've very rarely needed the helpdesk, but when I have, the issue has been addressed and sorted within a very short time."

Sarah Taggart, Oasis Academy Lord's Hill