How to improve your Spelling Skills
Spelling is not a reflection of a child’s intelligence, but it is an important skill that children need to master in order to progress in their writing, and as their vocabulary broadens. Poor spelling is a barrier for students as it can mean a student’s writing is hard for a teacher or parent to read and it can affect a child’s choice of written words as, rather than choosing more advanced words which reflect their oral ability, they can tend to make more basic word choices that they are more likely to be able to spell accurately. Poor spelling can also be a sign of a learning difficulty like dyslexia.
Spelling is something that needs to be taught and is something that needs to be continually put into practice through real-life written contexts. How do you improve your spelling, short of going back to elementary school and sitting through four or five grades of English class again? There are books and lists of commonly misspelled words available, but they’re too overwhelming to be very useful. Wanting to help my kids learn to spell better, I went looking for some techniques and practices that teachers use to teach what is, after all, just a skill, like riding a bike or learning long division.
Here are our top tips on how to improve your spelling skills:
1) Make it fun, using games
Games is very well-placed to provide an interactive spelling experience and are a really fun way to supplement and support spelling lessons in class. Which not try that old spelling favourite – Hangman? With the Spelling Hangman interactive app, it’s easy to play, fun and bang up-to-date!
2) Writing and Reading go Hand-in-Hand
Often time children can ‘learn for the test’ but then forget how to spell the words out of context or not use them in their everyday writing. It’s important that children also have a firm understanding of the meaning of the spelling words that they learn. What use is a word they can spell if they have no idea how to use it to enhance their writing?! Students of all ages find using interactive dictionary apps useful for word definitions. Try the Dictionary.com with its built-in thesaurus.
3) Mnemonics or memory clues
Many children, for myriad reasons, find it easier to learn spelling with an easy to remember acronym a memorable phrase in which the words with the same acronym as the material. This is a great way to learn tricky, high-frequency words as it’s a way to really embed the word in their memory. My favourite is: Big Elephants Can’t Always Use Small Exits (BECAUSE!). Visual clue apps are another good way to associate an image with a sound or phoneme like the Zaprendo Sounds English Phonics App, which received one of our highest ever ratings. It’s a great tool but also cements spelling too, through lovely visuals.
4) Differentiate your Spelling
Some children, even those in higher grades or classes, need to go back to basics when it comes to learning their high-frequency words. Jumping ahead too soon, before children have grasped the basic words for their age group, means they could have spelling gaps. There are tools which allow for the creation of spelling lists like Squeebles Spelling are really useful here and can help you differentiate for your class or home.
5) Look out for tell-tale signs of Dyslexia
This is a visual and auditory consideration which affects up to 10% of the population. It has no reflection on intelligence; in fact, many dyslexics are above average intelligence. Dyslexics typically have a poor short-term memory, find it hard to retain or remember even high-frequency words and can often reverse letter, numbers and omit vowels. The Nessy Hairy Phonics is specifically designed for dyslexic children and help with reading, writing and spelling.
6) Write write write!
The only way to really learn a word is to use it, and that counts for spelling as much as for learning its meaning. When you look up how to spell a word, write it down several times in a row, and do it again a day or two later – you’re trying to build up the motor memory of writing it correctly spelt.