Spelling

English spelling has a reputation for being exceedingly difficult. The usual problem is often cited as being the need for a very good memory. This characterisation of this aspect of English is a little unfair. There are not the very long words that are a result of continuous additions of "component" words which build to the final complete word. This phenomenon is seen particularly in German. In English there are probably no more "odd" spellings than there are "irregular" verbs in French. Some peculiarities exist because of the derivations of the English language. English contains words which came from many other languages, both dead and currently spoken languages. Sometimes the words have the original "foreign" spelling although often there is a corruption of both the meaning and the spelling. This has occurred also with respect to old English words.

The essential reason for being able to spell words correctly is so that, when they are used, there is no doubt about their meaning and that of the phrase or sentence in which they used. The spelling of a great many words will have been learned from exercises in reading and writing. To have understood what has been read or written it is necessary to have known the meaning of the words used. This provides an important rule in learning to spell. Always be sure to know the meaning of the word that you need to spell. If there is any doubt look up the word in your dictionary.

Initially both reading and writing exercises will have been with short words of one syllable. When longer words are encountered look at them carefully and "say" the word pronouncing each syllable distinctly. This should be repeated until you know how the word looks and how it sounds. Having learned to read by the "phonic" method this will came almost naturally to you. Syllables are usually short so it easy to "sound them out" by reference to the letters sounds of which they are comprised. Knowing how each letter sounds helps to know what letters make up a syllable and ultimately a word

While still looking at the word "say" the letters several times over. If there is more than one syllable pause at the end of each. Memory should be tested by repeating the letters with the eyes closed.

To "fix" a word write it down from memory. Check the word for accuracy. If it is wrong then repeat the process, look again, say again, write again and check again.

Try to use a word that you are needing to spell in a sentence. This may be done while learning the spelling or by bringing the word into something that you are writing. This will improve not only your spelling but also your vocabulary.

Rules

To make the learning of spelling easier and to move it more towards a logical exercise rather than just one of the memory there are rules. Many of the rules result from whatever is the grammatically defined part of speech a word forms. It may be a past participle, a present participle, a plural noun, an adverb and there are many more general rules. There are, however, almost as many exceptions to the the rules. Some rules are listed at the eduFire site.

Some sites combine exercises for the student with advice for teachers. One of the best free spelling courses is the Basic Cozy Spelling Course.

Learning to spell is very much an individual exercise. Instructors can offer guidance, details of the rules and lists of words that it is felt that should be known. In the limit spelling boils down to understanding the rules, having a "feel" for the correct spelling or that an exception is going to apply and, as with reading and writing, practice.

Spelling

Spelling

Rules

A SHORT ENGLISH GRAMMAR

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