The best way to learn spelling
One reason that spelling in English can be so difficult is that our words come from so many different languages with different spelling rules. That’s why spelling bees can be so competitive.
Spanish schools don’t have spelling bees. Why bother? Spanish is always written phonetically, so any native Spanish-speaking child can correctly spell anything they can write.
This is not true of English.
The best way to learn to spell better depends on your own learning style.
· If you learn by hearing, spell words out loud, or have someone else do it for you. Sing the letters. Listen to the rhythm, and you may sense the rules behind them. Teach someone else.
· If you learn kinesically; that is, by movement, tracing words on paper or in the air may cement their correct spelling in your memory. Typing them will help too.
· If you learn by seeing, the more you read, the more your spelling will improve. Using a keyboard will help. Seeing what you just typed appearing neatly on the screen may trigger your “right/wrong” sensors more reliably than trying to read your handwriting.
· If you learn logically, organize your word lists by rule or family. Not all logic is verbal, and you can sharpen your unconscious spelling sense simply by putting all the words together that end with ‘ed’ or start with ‘eu’.
Strategies for better spelling
· It helps to learn basic spelling rules, but don’t worry if you still make mistakes. After a two year study, Stanford University researchers determined that you would need more than 650 rules to correctly spell the 20,000 most common words in the English language. If you learned 300 rules, you might be able to spell half of them.
· Learn to spell words according to families; that is, in groups of similarly spelled words. In a spelling bee, to make the competition harder, the judges make sure that every word is different from the next. But learning to spell is not a competition, so spelling lists should be as easy to learn as possible – with each word similar to the next. In a few minutes, a child can learn to spell take, rake, make, lake, bake, cake, sake, and wake. So when you study patriarch, you may as well learn arch, archive, archaic, architecture, archipelago, and archaeology at the same time. Simply seeing arch on that list might be enough reminder to spell the others correctly. Besides, getting question after question right makes a student feel good.
· Learn to spell words according to their etymology; that is, according to their language of origin. Many Arabic words begin with ‘al’ (meaning ‘the’) while many Hebrew names end with ‘el’ (meaning ‘God’). In words that came from Greek, the ‘f’ sound is spelled ‘ph’. If you remember those word origins, you will never spell algebra as “elgebra”, Michael as “Micheal”, or photograph as “fotograf”.
Though some people may judge you for your mistakes, success in life doesn’t depend on good spelling.
Fortunately, spellcheckers and friends can help. But when opponents criticized Andrew Jackson’s spelling, the future U.S. President retorted, “It’s a… poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.”