How to Improve Your Spelling

A Guide for Students


How to Improve your SpellingIf you want to know how to improve your spelling, read the suggestions right here.

Even if you have good speaking, listening, and reading skills, or even good grammar, your written English can be badly affected by your spelling.

Bad spelling can leave a bad impression on the person reading your work, so it's good to get it right.

(Just think about how you feel when you encounter spelling errors in a piece of writing . . .)

In English sometimes the same groups of letters, such as ough, can have a number of different pronunciations. That can make spelling more difficult to learn.

But there are some things you can do to help.

English spelling: learn the rules

English spelling keeps to the spelling rules more than English grammar keeps to its grammar rules!

There are other articles on this site that detail some of the spelling rules, so it’s a good idea to learn as many as you can:

English Spelling Rules

Practice makes perfect

Practice difficult words. Write them over and over until you can remember them.

One technique that works well is "Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check."

Using this method, you:
  • Look at the word
  • Say it
  • Say the letters
  • Say the word again
  • Cover it and try to write the word
  • Check your spelling
  • Repeat if you get it wrong
This works even better if you write some of the difficult words on cards and use them for your practice.

Read more

Read as much as you can.

Read books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements . . . anything you can get your hands on.

The more you read, the more you will see words and will start to remember how they are spelled.

Make sure you always understand what you read and don't guess words "out of context."

Good English dictionaries will help you do just that.

Work together

If you can get together with a friend or classmate to practice your spelling together, this can really help.

You may even enjoy having spelling competitions with each other, and by doing so you will be helping each other.

Group words together

If you have a vocabulary notebook, it is a good idea to have a page or two for words you find hard to spell.

This is even better if you write the words in groups that use the same groups of letters.


For example:
  • ough words, such as thought, bought, fought

It also helps if you write one sentence or more using the word every time you enter a new word into your notebook.

Other tips and tricks

  • If you come across a new word that you think may be difficult to spell, highlight the difficult letters.

    For example, in the word daughter, the letters augh are not obvious, so you can write it in your notebook as daughter.

  • Write words you find difficult to spell on sticky notes and put them around your home so you see them more often.

  • Ask your teacher to give you spelling quizzes and play spelling games in class.

  • Find online spelling tests.

    There are some for ESL students and some designed for native English speakers.

  • Play games such as Scrabble or other word games online.

    Online or computer versions of word games are great because they will tell you if you don't have the right spelling.

Here is one final point you should keep in mind:

Don't rely too much on a spell-checker

Don't rely too much on a spell-checker when you are typing work on a computer.

Why?

  1. This will make you a lazy speller!

  2. Your spell-checker may not always inform you about your spelling errors.
For example, lets say you type in the following sentence:

"The temperature should not go bellow 15 degrees."

Well, are there any typos inside?

All words are indeed correctly spelled, but this sentence is still incorrect.

The word "bellow" (double L) is actually a verb meaning, "to shout in a loud deep voice."

The word "below" (single L), on the other hand, means "lower than something."

So the correct sentence is:

"The temperature should not go below 15 degrees."

Not all spell-checkers would notice this type of error, since it requires considering the context of words.

So I hope that these tips will help you learn how to improve your spelling.

Get Vocabulary, Grammar and Teaching Tips, Site Updates and Special Offers Directly to Your Mailbox

Join now and get a special bonus:

First 2 chapters of the English Short Stories Book and Workbook.

Are you a teacher or a student?

* We respect your email privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.