How to Improve Spelling: 7 Techniques to Guide Your Learning

, Staff Writer
Updated September 9, 2021
Exam with Correction Marks How to Improve Your Spelling
    Exam with Correction Marks How to Improve Your Spelling
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Everyone has a few words that they struggle to spell. So how can you get better at spelling without relying on a spell checking system? There are several techniques you can use to improve your spelling — and they're easier than you think.

1. Memorize Sight Words

Sight words are common words that can’t always be sounded out. To learn them, you need to commit them to memory. These words range from short (such as "been" or "the") to long (such as "people" or "impossible"). Once you've moved on from Dolch sight words, try out sight word phrases and sentences that can improve both your spelling and your reading fluency.

2. Read More Books

The more you read, the more words will start to "feel" right or wrong. With practice, you’ll develop a reliable sense of when you should probably check the spelling of a word in the dictionary. Reading aloud is also the best possible way of learning the phonetic nature of English and avoiding mispronunciation.


3. Learn Common Prefixes and Suffixes

Many English words include Greek and Latin roots and affixes. When you memorize these word parts, spelling gets easier. Practice with a list of must-know suffixes to learn how to spell common word endings, and move on to essential prefixes as a next step. Once you know how to spell these roots and affixes correctly, you'll have a grasp on a large percentage of English words!

4. Keep Track of Tricky Words

Some words are just hard to spell. “Refrigerator” really sounds like it should have a "d" in it somewhere, and no one really agrees whether "judgement" should have an "e" or not. Use a writing notebook or a cheat sheet to jot down commonly misspelled words that you struggle with or come across. You can also include words with unusual spellings for your learning convenience.


5. Use Mnemonics

A mnemonic is a trick used to memorize a certain bit of information. Spelling is a great use for mnemonics, as much of spelling relies on memory. You can use common examples of mnemonics to help with your spelling skills, or you can make up your own spelling tricks to memorize particularly tricky spelling rules.

6. Be Aware of Spelling Exceptions

Just when you've learned all the spelling rules in English, some words go and break those rules! While some follow spelling patterns, many words simply keep their spellings from their original languages. Many old English words, for example, are difficult to learn without memorizing their quirks. Understand the difference between American and British spellings as well.


7. Test Yourself

Use a variety of resources to prepare and test yourself, including vocabulary flashcards and spelling bee word lists. Bring a list of study words to quiz yourself when you're waiting in line for something. Then, take on our spelling bee quizzes to see how well you’ve learned!

Improve Spelling Skills Every Day

Learning how to get better at spelling is a challenging task. Continue working on your spelling frequently, read as much as you can, and you’ll soon find yourself reaching for the dictionary far less often. Check out nine fun spelling games for the classroom if you're ready to test students' knowledge in an entertaining and interactive way.