English contains words from many languages, thus it has many irregular spelling patterns. This means a lot of time, practise and memory work for students. Spelling helps students to learn the letter‐sound relationships; writing practise helps to reinforce spelling. Working on spelling should fit naturally into other reading and writing activities that you and your students do together.
Some strategies to help with spelling:
Sound out the word
Have your students pronounce the word slowly and write down the letters they hear. Ask your students to try to spell the word in a couple of different ways and have them choose the best one. Tip: ask your students to think about the word families or root words that the word may be related to.
After your students have finished writing something, ask them if they think there are any words in the text that are spelled incorrectly. Check these words together.
Share your personal spelling strategies
For example, some people use mnemonic phrases (“the principal is our pal”). Others deliberately mispronounce specific words (such as knife) to make them sound the way they are spelled.
Look for patterns in your student’s errors
Your students may always have difficulty with certain words (for example, words ending in ‐tion or ‐sion or homonyms such as their, there and they’re). Write a song or a story that includes these words.
Practise using the dictionary together
Practise using a dictionary or compile a personal dictionary (see box on page 18). Try using a spell‐check program on a computer — remember that these programs may not catch words that are spelled correctly but misused.