Spellzone will teach you the rules of
English spelling and will also show you which words
break those rules. But, with English, however many
rules and rule-breakers you learn, you are still
going to find some odd words that need extra care.
Another problem with English is that there are often many ways of spelling the same sound. Look at this example from Unit 11:
|There are 4 main ways of spelling this vowel sound. There are no rules to help you decide which spelling to use -you have to remember what the word looks like.|
|ur as in burger||ir as in shirt||ear as in earth||er as in person|
To go to a more advanced unit with a similar example, click here.
Each of the words above has the same vowel sound. How do you
know which to choose from ur ir ear er ? The sounds in a word are only the starting point in learning
to spell it. It is also important to know what the word looks
like. If you have seen it before, you may be able to remember
what it looks like. If not, one of the best ways to learn
is to use this method:
|Look Say Cover Write Check|
|LOOK at the word carefully.
What letter patterns can you see?
Does it have a prefix or a suffix? ***see below
Are there any small words within the word?
|SAY the word aloud and listen to the sounds in it.
How many syllables?
Can you hear the vowel sound in each syllable?
|When you think you know the word, COVER it.|
|WRITE the word from memory.|
back and CHECK if you are correct.
If yes - do it twice more to fix it in your memory.
If not - go back to step one.
*** Suffixes and prefixes are covered in detail in Units 9, 23 and 34.
If you keep making mistakes with the same word, try this way of learning it:
Some people find making up anagrams can help them - use Scrabble tiles, or make your own by writing and cutting out the letters. Try it this way:
|If a word keeps causing you problems, it calls for more action. You need to think of a memory trigger - a mnemonic. (The word mnemonic starts with a silent m. It comes from an ancient Greek word mnemonikos, meaning 'mindful').|
Work on the part of the word causing problems. Look at this
accommodation (a word said to be spelled wrongly by over 50% of adults)
To remember double cc and double mm:
Think of two people with the initials CC and MM sharing accommodation:
Cheerful Charlie and Mad Mick
|When you invent a mnemonic, draw it also. This helps to fix it in your memory. Make cc into Cheerful Charlie's eyes and mm into Mad Mick's eyebrows. You will never again forget to put cc and mm in accommodation.|
Some more ideas for mnemonics (memory triggers):
1. Look for small words within a word. For example:
2. Acronyms are words made from the initial letters of a phrase,
|radar - radio detection and ranging|
|laser - light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation|
Try this in reverse: make up phrases or short sentences for
words you find hard to remember. For example, see how many
sentences you can make up for said:
|Smelly Albert is dirty.||Sarah Ann is dancing.||Sam ate ice-cream daily.|
By the time you have made up ten different sentences, you should
have the spelling of said fixed firmly in your mind.
If not, choose your favourite sentence and write said many times, saying your sentence as you write each letter.
3. Think of other words that have the same letter pattern as the one you want to learn. Put the words in a sentence, for example:
|The guy with the guitar drinks fruit juice|
4. Invent your own spelling language: pronounce words as they are spelled.
This works well for:
For example, see this extract from Unit 22:
Put the words in sentences and read them aloud them to a friend
- using your spelling language.
|5. How to track down tricky letters:|
Sometimes you can link tricky words with others that have the
|All these words are linked in some waywith the word sign|
|In these words the g is silent:||In these words you can hear the g :|
To remember a word with silent g, put it in a sentence
with one from the other set, e.g.
a) A sign is a kind of signal
b) Put your signature on your design.
c) To resign from your job, hand in your resignation.
|Some more examples of how to track down tricky letters:|
|medicine :||remember the c in medical, medication|
|receipt :||remember the p in reception, receptacle|
|muscles :||remember the c in muscular|
You'll find many more tips like these throughout the Spellzone
|Look for the logo:|
To see some more examples, click
Use the mnemonics in the Spellzone course as examples but,
wherever possible, make up your own - you will remember them
better. (And the ones you will remember the most will be the
silly or vulgar ones!)
|Go to the next page:
Tips on how to learn groups of similar words
Spellzone is used by students aged seven to adult to improve their spelling, including those learning English as a foreign language and those with dyslexia.Find out more >>