How to Teach Spelling


How to Teach SpellingThere are a lot of English teachers out there who don't know how to teach spelling.

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In fact, there are a lot of teachers out there who don't think it is important. But that's not true.

Although bad spelling doesn't always prevent someone from being understood, it can leave a bad impression on the person reading whatever has been written.

Good spelling is important in business English and academic English, but also in general English. For example in job applications, letters and emails.

Although spell checking software can correct some mistakes, it doesn't correct everything, and even now, not everything is written on a computer.

What can you do to help teach spelling?

1. Correct mistakes

If you see that your student has made a spelling mistake, correct it.

Write the word correctly at the bottom of the paper, or in a vocabulary notebook, and give your student the task to learn the correct spelling before the next lesson.

2. Have spelling tests

I give my students 5 level-appropriate words each lesson and test them on the spelling in the next class.

Sometimes I offer prizes if they get them all correct and can use them in a sentence.

3. Play spelling games

All of these games reinforce correct spelling:
  • Spelling Bee type games 
  • Word games such as Scrabble
  • Crossword 
  • Word-search races
  • Mixed up letters to make into words

4. Drill spelling

It's an old-fashioned method but it works.

Choose a word that students often make mistakes with and get one student to spell it.

Then ask another one, then another, until the whole class have said it correctly.

5. Teach spelling rules

Many students love learning language and spelling rules.

Little rhymes and songs also help with these, for example, "i before e, except after c" are easy to remember.

Worksheets reinforce the rules, and many are available online.

6. Praise good spelling

Teachers often neglect to praise their students, but positive praise for good spelling will encourage your students to try hard with their spelling.

7. Encourage your students to read

Reading is one of the best ways to improve spelling, and writing in general.

Provide a selection of interesting reading material for your students to use outside the class, as well as a selection of reading activities in the class.

8. Use dictionaries in class

Try to encourage your students to use English language dictionaries to check definitions.

In addition to the many benefits of using good dictionaries, in the process of finding each word, they will become more familiar with the way it is spelled.

9. Teach prefixes and suffixes

There are many ways to do this, and a lot of great activities in teaching resource books and online.

If students know the prefix and suffix rules, their spelling will improve.

10. Give your students writing tasks

I've met teachers who don't like giving writing tasks, because they are difficult and time-consuming to mark.

Encourage cooperation between students, as well as peer correction sometimes, and this could make the task easier for you.

Teaching spelling is important and hopefully with some of these suggestions of how to teach spelling, your students will improve!

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