How to Improve your Spelling

How to improve your spelling

Believe it or not but at the first little state school I attended in about second grade in 1950, the teacher made us come out the front if we had spelling test mistakes and for however many you got wrong he would strap you on the hand, so four wrong, four straps. I decided later in life he was a sadist as were many of that strapping generation, but I always joke with my friends and say I am a good speller because of this.

I believe like lots of things in life we are born with a talent for such and such and some are born good spellers and never have any problems while others who may be dyslexic or have a spelling block just can’t do it. Here are a few tips that may make for a student improving their spelling.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s I was a teacher in a formal private school and the rule was six words a day and a test the next day after you had revised or learnt them for homework. The simple way of learning them was to write them out again and again. If you got them wrong there was no dark age strap but you would stay in for half your lunch break and write the words out a number of times. A good old fashioned way but effective. That was then this is now the new millenium and I am sure more modern methods of improving spelling have been designed. There is one more old fashioned method and that is to encourage the poor speller to read lots and in doing so recognize the look of words and photograph this pattern or shape in their mind for future reference.

A remedial teacher I knew had a series of spelling cards which would be displayed each day in bright colors and with a drawing of the word beside it. The poor speller would be asked to recognise these and by presenting them in a different way was coming nearer to the correct spelling. A very good and logical way to understand the formation of words is to break them up into two or three sections. For instance the word (and its a long one but if they can do this one they can do any) Hippopotamus can be broken into Hippo pot a mus or the word uncomfortable can be broken into un com fort able and so on Try making a jigsaw puzzle of word parts and the children have to put the right sections together to spell the word properly. Whilst on the game aspect buy some scrabble sets and the poor speller even though they may have to ask will be constantly revising spelling.

Take the child out into the world of street and advertising signs and get them to write down all they have observed and how it was spelt. Visual recognition is important and there is a machine called a tachistascope. A normal slide projector of the old type can have a lens screwed onto it’s lens that has camera shutter speeds in it and a button that allows you to run small amounts of light, say shutter speed 1/125 second, or larger slower amounts of light, say 1/25 second through it. If you place slides of the various words and common phrases you want the child to know correctly in the projector and then flash these onto a screen at various speeds it imprints on the mind the shape and form of the word. The results from this type of work have proved highly successful in this field as well as speed reading and getting air force pilots to be able to read numbers and signs on their cockpit dashboard.

Lastly it is important to use words regularly, so do lots of talking and even when you are talking make a fun game of it by breaking some of your spoken words into sections so that all the time the proper sequence of letters is being practically imprinted on the mind of the learner. No doubt the child will watch television. Make a game where they have to listen hard and any hard word they tell you and you look it up and work on it. Get the child to read the dictionary and not only will they learn how to spell but the meaning as well.