hover where > for submenu
Five Guidelines for Learning Spelling and Six Ways for Practicing Spelling
Did somebody tell you practice made perfect? That's only if you're practicing it right. Each time you spell a word wrong, you're 'practicing' the wrong spelling. So, if you're not sure how to spell the word, find out, then practice that spelling. Keep an ongoing notebook of words, so you've got your own personal dictionary and you can see your progress. Start small, though!
Even if you learn them all in one sitting, practice them a few at a time. Find out what works best for you — it may be one or two words or as many as three or four. Then, add another word to your list, or start on different ones. Each time you learn another word, go back and practice the ones you learned before it, because, after all, practice makes permanent.
If you already know some of the words on your list, practice them once or twice each before you start tackling the ones you don't know yet. It's a good confidence booster (and besides, practice makes permanent).
There's more to learning to spell than passing a spelling test. There are lots of ways to get from guessing to knowing what to write down on a test, AND spelling words right when you're writing sentences and paragraphs. You want to train your hands to write the correct letters in the right order when you think a certain word. Use the "six ways to practice spelling" listed here.
That's the point to learning them, anyway. Have a list of words you're learning handy, in a notebook, and you can look them up to make sure you're spelling them right. Besides, using them is practicing them, and practice…you know…makes permanent.
Make a chart like this with 3 or four spelling words you want to learn:
Then fold over the "recall" part so that only the first two columns show:
This is harder, for longer words.
Some words, like separate, are only hard in some parts. You might be getting these right on a test — but always spelling them WRONG when you write, frustrating you and your teachers to no end. And since practice makes permanent, every time you practice it wrong you're making it more likely you'll write it wrong the next time. Here's something to help you focus on the troublesome part.
This is also a good technique for learning rules and patterns. If you want to learn a bunch of IE words — that "I before E" rule that so many people find so hard to use — this is a good way to do it.
Get different color pens or pencils or markers, and index cards. Write the words vividly, boldly on the cards — and make the 'hard part' a different color than the rest… maybe with stripes on the letters. Make a mental picture of that card, read the word aloud and spell it aloud, and change the way you say the "hard part," maybe saying it louder, maybe putting on a English accent. So, you'd write:
relieve grieve achieve
When you write the whole word, think about the hard part, what it looks like or sounds like. So, while you're writing "separate," you might be thinking "sep-AY-rate" and/or visualizing that bold, red A.
Again, the keys here are to NOT overwhelm your brain — don't try to learn 5 words at a time like this unless you've got an amazing visual memory. Better to do one word 5 times — and start spelling it right in your writing.
Read the words — be sure you're pronouncing them right — into a tape recorder. Record it like it's a spelling test: word, example sentence, word. For example, you'd say "Separate. Put the papers in separate piles. Separate. Spelled s - e - p - a - r - a - t - e." Play it back — and try to say the spelling before the tape plays it.
If separate is the word, see if you can think of 5 different phrases with the word and write them out. Let's see… separate rooms, separate cars, separate houses, A Separate Peace, separate the pages. Or, try to use 20 of your words in the same story. Get silly — have fun with the words!
Jones, S. (1998). Five Guidelines for Learning to Spell and Six Ways to Practice Spelling. From The Resource Room: Free Spirited Structured Multisensory Learning.