Spelling Tips

Today I was invited to participate in an interview with ABC Radio Brisbane, to discuss spelling.

The aim was to present some ideas of how to remember those tricky words that we often stumble on when writing, even though we have written them hundreds of times.

I’ve prepared some tips about learning to spell and how to remember some of those words that trick you every time! Which one always tricks you?

A few spelling tips from Learnersaurus

ORTHOGRAPHY is the term used to describe the representation of the sounds of a language by written or printed symbols. These are the conventions for writing in our language, our spelling system.

A good speller will use a variety of strategies to spell a word.

  • Phonological awareness is the key ingredient.

  • You need to be able to break down the sounds from sentences to words and words to individual sounds (phonemes).

  • The pure sound represented by the letter must be learned.

  • You must be able to identify rhyme in words and break them into syllables.

  • You need to know what vowels are and identify long and short vowel sounds.

  • There must be an automatic response between what you see and what you hear.

  • There needs to be an understanding of spelling rules and how to use the letters.

  • An understanding of prefixes, suffixes and root words can make it easier to break down words for spelling.

  • Not all words have a regular spelling pattern, with exact sound and letter match.

  • Using visual memory will support familiar shapes and groups of letters.

A few tips for irregular words:

  • Use exaggerated pronunciation



  • Use memory hooks or humour:

    • NECESSARY > It is necessary to have a shirt with one Collar and 2 Sleeves

    • SEPARATE > There is A RAT in separate

    • ACCOMMODATION > Comfortable Couch on Magnificent Mountains

    • DEFINITELY > is FINITE (Can you see the word finite?)

    • DESERT or DESSERT > The sweet one has 2 ss for “sweet stuff”

    • FORTY > is naughty because it leaves out the U

    • Sometimes it’s natural to be (b) in DOUBT

    • PRINCIPAL or PRINCIPLE > The principal is your PAL

    • STATIONERY or STATIONARY > e in pen and ar in car

    • AFFECT or EFFECT > Affect is the verb, the ACTION (A for Action), Effect is a noun. Think of causE and Effect, cause ends with E and effect starts with E.

  • Mnemonics - For spelling, a mnemonic is a memory tool that uses the letters in a word to represent a sequence of words. This can be supported with visual reminders, using pictures as a prompt:

    • SAID > Sam and I Dance

    • SOME > Sauce On My Elbow

    • THURSDAY > Take Home Undies Really Soon DAY

    • DIARRHOEA > Dash In A Real Rush, Hurry Or Else… Accident

Our Naughty Words book is full of great Mnemonics that come in handy to learn these tricky words that don’t follow the rules!

Leslie Keast-Patch