5 Ways to Improve Spelling

5 Ways to Improve Spelling

Using a dic­tio­nary, learn­ing how to lis­ten care­fully, learn­ing how to spell based on rules and pat­terns, keep­ing a list of dif­fi­cult words and mnemon­ics are ways to improve spelling.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (ver­sion 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Down­load the lat­est ver­sion here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Spelling helps your child present her­self and/or deliver a mes­sage. A lot of impor­tance is attached to spelling in today’s world, and spelling is of crit­i­cal impor­tance in for­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tion such as writ­ing let­ters. Spelling mis­takes may dis­tract the reader, send the wrong mes­sage or give no mean­ing at all. Eng­lish spelling is dif­fi­cult because spelling is full of incon­sis­ten­cies, there are alter­na­tive spellings and there are lots of excep­tions to rules and pat­terns. The look-spell-cover-write-check method is a use­ful tech­nique to improve spelling.

Use a dictionary

A dic­tio­nary will not only tell the mean­ings of words, but also teach how to pro­nounce them, indi­cate other words that may be derived from them, and show the ori­gin of words. A spelling dic­tio­nary could help focus on spelling, while another dic­tio­nary could help with the mean­ings and ori­gins of words.

Learn how to spell based on rules and patterns

Use mem­ory or look for ref­er­ences in the absence of rules or pat­terns. It is help­ful to know the types of prob­lems that can cause mis­takes. For exam­ple, how to use sin­gle or dou­ble con­so­nants in words like accommodate.

Keep a list of words that are difficult

Some­times, spellings depend on usage and gen­eral accept­abil­ity, and not on logic or a set of rules. Read­ing books, news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines pro­vide an oppor­tu­nity to test and improve knowl­edge. Writ­ing using words that cause prob­lems also help improve. Lists are easy to use and changes may be included as the spelling improves. Com­mon oppor­tu­ni­ties for writ­ing include the use of com­puter or send­ing emails. Spell-checkers are use­ful in find­ing errors, but are inca­pable of dis­tin­guish­ing con­text or typos.

Learn how to lis­ten carefully

Poor lis­ten­ers do not pay atten­tion and they do not hear what is being said.

Use mnemon­ics to remem­ber how to spell words

Rhythm has your two hips mov­ing (rhythm), for exam­ple, is a well known mnemonic.


Allen, R. (2002). Spelling. Oxford Uni­ver­sity Press. Oxford, U.K.


Literacy Skills