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Improve your spelling

Improve your spelling

English spelling is particularly complicated and difficult because of its origins and influences, but don't despair. There are plenty of ways to help improve your techniques.

First decide: what amount of time do you want to spend improving your spelling?

You might have some words that you have to try to get right. A useful technique is to keep a list of your common spelling mistakes. Some software like Read and Write Opens in a new window and TextHELP Opens in a new window actually keep tabs of your common spelling mistakes and help you improve over time.

Click the highlighted headings to check out some spelling tips.

  1. Use voice activated transcription software
  2. There are a variety of software tools available, for example, TextHELP Opens in a new window reads electronic text aloud and explains their meanings and allows you to select correct spelling based on hearing the word and as well as seeing it. This allows you to distinguish between homonyms (words that sound the same but look different).

  3. Think creatively about developing your own spelling mnemonics and memory-joggers.
  4. Here are some examples.

    • affect or effect?
    • Use the word RAVEN to remember when to use 'affect' versus 'effect'.






    • hear or here?
    • You HEAR with your EAR.

    • accommodation
    • Accommodation has two cots and two mattresses (two c's and 2 m's).

  5. Use your processing preferences to improve your spelling.
    1. Visual
      • Use colours or fonts to highlight word segments. e.g. receive, psychology.

      • Write fonts in different sizes.
      • Segment larger words into smaller bits or smaller words, e.g. caterpillar would be cat -er- pill -ar.
      • Visualise the word in your mind.
    2. Auditory
      • Focus on the sound of the word to chunk it into spelling bits: um-brell-a.
      • Exaggerate the sounds of words: Wed -nes- day.
      • Group words with rhyming sounds: feline and decline.
      • Group similar sounding word segments: 'A chemist has charm and charisma'.
    3. Kinaesthetic
      • Trace word patterns in the air or on the sand for fun.
      • Use a magnetic alphabet to spell words you find difficult or confusing on your fridge or filing cabinet.
      Further spelling techniques and examples can be found at Learning centre Opens in a new window, North Coast institute
  6. Reacquaint yourself with relevant English spelling rules.
    1. English is a notoriously difficult language for spelling, but here are some rules that you may find helpful.

    2. Doubling consonants
      • In English, we double l, f, s, after a single vowel at the end of a short word. For example, hall, tell, moss, gloss, (exceptions- us, bus, if, of, ...).
      • Words ending in a single vowel and a single consonant always double the last consonant before adding an ending beginning with a vowel (for example, stop, stopping; hum, humming).
    3. Plural 's'
      • Regular plurals are made by adding 's'. For example, cups, mugs, books... To form plurals of words with these endings - s, x, z, sh, ch, ss - add 'es'. For example, buses, churches, foxes...
    4. Dropping of 'l' rule for 'full'
      • 'Full' joined to another root syllable drops one 'l'. For example, delightful, harmful, resourceful...
One of the things I love doing, is having a-word-a-day spelling poetry on my fridge. I bought one of those magnetic poetry kits and there was one with separate letters too, so now I just play with it as a great way to reinforce seeing a word too!
— Natalie
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