Did you know: that the best spellers (in English) are Indian Americans? Yup, not Americans, not English, not Canadians, not Australians, not even South-Africans. Indians. The American Scripps National Spelling Bee has more often been won by an Indian than by any other nationality. What’s more, the second and third place have also been won by contestants from Indian descent. And it was the same last year! In fact, Indian Americans have taken the trophy for nine years in a row. As yet, nobody knows how to explain why Indian Americans are so good at spelling. Some possible explanations I’ve read are: Indian names are notoriously hard to spell. Or: South-Indians are the fastest-talking people in the world. I don’t know what that has got to do with spelling, but anyway.
Some words from the competition: knaidel, stromuhr, elucubrate, antipyretic, esquamulose, vivisepulture, logorrhea. No idea what these mean, except for knaidel, which was Arvind Mahankali’s (pictured) winning word. It’s a Yiddish word for dumpling.
Here at English with a Smile we’re delighted when you are able to spell antediluvian. So here are some tips if you’re having trouble with spelling. And most people have that!
If you want to learn more tips, I recommend this great spelling website made by a retired teacher. If it’s true that one never stops learning, it’s apparently also true that one never stops teaching.
Before you dive in, let’s talk how you can use this wonderful website to maximum effect.
1 First read the advice for adult learners. This you can find here and an example of how it works is here.
How does the website advise you to train your spelling:
With the LOOK THINK COVER WRITE CHECK technique.
How does it work:
Look: Look at the word that you’d like to spell. Break it down into little bits. Many words have a root word that you already know. For instance if you look at the word “misspell,” you’ll recognize “spell.” The prefix “mis” is used in many words, and it sounds the way it is spelt, so you won’t have a problem with that.
Think: Think how the word is the same or different from other words that you know. Particularly when there are differences or things that you didn’t expect, try to remember those aspects especially. For instance, in “misspell” you’ll need to remember that spell is with double l.
Always have a think as well whether the word is spelt differently or the same as what you expected when you pronounce the word.
For instance, let’s say you want to spell the word “apparently.” After you’ve looked at the word, you come to the conclusion that the only thing you didn’t expect in this word is the double p, because you don’t hear that the word is with double p. The a’s and e are in the place where you hear them or expected them. So the only thing you need to remember about apparently is the double p. You won’t need to remember the rest of the letters.
Cover: Cover the word with your hand or a piece of paper or scroll the mouse if you’re working on the computer.
Write: Write the word with a pen or pencil. Um, in fact the website doesn’t specify that you should write the word by hand, but I recommend this if you’re a bad speller or when you’re dysgraphic. Why? Because there are muscle movements involved in writing the letters, and the memory in your muscles is able to remember things better than your brain in many cases. For instance, do you remember how to walk or drive home without actually thinking about it?
Another tip that the website does give is to write the word with your finger (on your desk). Do this only when nobody is watching you! 🙂
You should write (or try to write) the whole word, and only after you’ve finished should you allow yourself to look at the word again. This is really important. I can tell you from experience that students who can’t unlearn writing words letter for letter simply will not improve their spelling.
I have another tip which could help you as well: say the word phonetically. For instance if you need to write the word assistant, and you keep forgetting that the ending is with a in “ant,” say the word with an a in the ending. If you know you’re going to have trouble spelling sycophant, say the word with a y-sound, then pronounce the p and h to remind yourself that they are in the word.
If you have any more tricks that help you memorize a word, so much the better. You could have your own personal tricks; for instance, a certain English word may look like a word in your native language.
Check: See how you’ve done and try to learn from your mistakes.
Okay, so you’ve read all these tips. Good! Now go on to step 2, which is practising.
2 Choose a problem or exercise from the menu. You can practise your vowels, consonants, double consonants, prefixes, suffixes, word endings, etc.
This website has lots of practise material. In case you get bored, try the following things: read a book or a magazine, download a spelling app on your phone, or play scrabble with your family and friends. There are some other ideas for word games on the website.
4 thoughts on “Tips for Spelling – Words Can Be Rather Fun”
I do agree with all the ideas you’ve offered on your post.
They are really convincing and can certainly work.
Nonetheless, the posts are too short for newbies. May you please prolong them a bit from next time?
Thank you for the post.
Ok, I will certainly keep that in mind. Thanks for your comment.
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