University North Central Writing Center Handout
Ways to Improve
by trying these methods:
Identify and make a list of problem words.
You can collect them from papers you have written, from diagnostic
spelling quizzes, or from the areas of spelling insecurity you already know you
Analyze the personalized list, looking for patterns of misspellings by
asking such questions as “Do I repeatedly have trouble with final, silent
consonants?” and “Do I always
hit a snag with silent e’s?” Each
incorrect spelling has a cause. Students
who want to improve their spelling can save themselves a fair amount of energy
and time if they discover what that cause is.
Once the pattern is identified, you can try to discover the rules that
would, if followed, have averted the errors.
Keep a personalized dictionary. Problems
words can be recorded in alphabetical order in a notebook.
Such a personalized dictionary simplifies the process of looking up words
in a regular dictionary.
Help yourself improve visual memory by writing a word in the air and
using a finger to make the troublesome letters especially large. Try to imagine a word as if it were on an outdoor movie
screen, stabilizing and holding that image as long as possible.
Invoke your hearing sense by exaggerated pronunciations. That is, emphasize the problem portion of the word when
saying it. For example, the person
who habitually leaves off the final -d of “used” should practice pronouncing
the word as ‘you said.”
Try writing the problem word on paper, changing from a pencil to a pen to
write the difficult spots, or put the problem letters in red or some other
Use mnemonic devices--devices that help you remember. You will have to discover which mnemonic devices are
personally effective. The only
advice is that the more ridiculous the device, the more likely it is to be
remembered. We all know the ones
about “the opposite of all wrong is all right,” or “ the principal of the
school is your pal,” but more unusual connections are not difficult to come by
and are less likely to be forgotten.
For homonyms (words that sound the same but are spelled differently like
there and their) select the easier of the two words to remember, learn how to
spell it and when to use it, and then use the second one on all other occasions.
This may work for “its” and “it’s,” “to” and “too,” and
“for” and “four,” for example.
the correctly spelled problem words in your line of sight for a week: on a desk, on bookmarks, on the mirror in the bathroom.
The words need not be directly “studied.”
Eventually, you will have internalized the correct spelling of the words.