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Spelling Rules Help

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Updated on Sep 8, 2011

Spelling Rules

In the English language, if you simply wrote words the way they sound, you'd come up with some very peculiar spellings. If you tried to sound out every word and pronounce it exactly the way it's written, you'd come up with some pretty odd pronunciations too.

Here are some general multisensory tips for studying spelling:

  • Use your eyes.
      Look at words carefully. With a marker or pen, highlight the part of the word that is hard to remember.
      Visualize the word with your eyes closed.
  • Use your ears.
      Listen for the sound of words you hear in conversation or on the radio or television.
      Listen to the sound of the spelling of words. Ask someone to dictate the words and their spelling, and listen as the word is spelled out.
  • Use your hands.
      Write the word several times, spelling it in your head as you write.

There are two main stumbling blocks to spelling by sight and sound. One we have already identified—the fact that English is both phonetically inconsistent and visually confusing. Here are four strategies that can guide your way through a difficult system and give you some ways to make good spelling a part of your life.

  1. Learn the rules, but expect some exceptions. The lessons that follow point out both spelling rules and their exceptions.
  2. Use mnemonics (memory tricks) to help you remember how to spell unfamiliar or confusing words. The most common type of mnemonic is the acronym. An acronym is a word created from the first letters in a series of words. Another type of mnemonic is a silly sentence or phrase, known as an acrostic, which is made out of words that each begin with the letter or letters that start each item in a series that you want to remember.
  3. Write it down. This book provides you with helpful exercises that require you to write your vocabulary words in a blank space. This act will help your hand and eye remember how to spell the word. Make sure to spell the word correctly as you go along so you don't have to relearn the word's spelling later on. After you are done with this book, you can teach yourself to spell new words in the same way. The simple act of writing words down several times will help you cement their spellings in your mind.
  4. Referring to a pronunciation chart in any dictionary will help guide you through pronouncing the words in this book and also familiarize you with pronouncing other new words you encounter in everyday life. You can also access pronunciation charts online. The following is a list of a few online resources:
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary: www.m-w.com/help/pronguide.htm
  • The Newbury House Online Dictionary: nhd.heinle.com/pronunciation.aspx
  • American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language Online at Bartleby.com: www. bartleby.com/61/12.html

There are many other online dictionaries such as www.dictionary.com; or just type "online dictionary" into any search engine, and get ready to pronounce.

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