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How to spell words correctly every time.

how to help child with spelling

How to spell words correctly every time

In primary school, a lot of class time is dedicated to spelling. Even though autocorrect can catch most errors, spelling is still considered an important skill – with good reason. Incorrect spelling on a resume can derail your child’s job prospects. A misspelled word in business correspondence can affect sales. Even spelling errors in online forums, social media and text messages can raise questions about credibility.

Mastering spelling patterns and rules will have you spelling words correctly.

Spelling words correctly involves following simple rules

The majority of words in English follow the same rules. About 98% of words are spelled phonetically, which means they are spelled the way they sound. These sounds need to be explicitly taught in a systematic pattern. Learning these sounds in a random order can lead to errors and confusion.

Here are some commonly accepted ‘rules’ that can lead to spelling mistakes.

Some common spelling rules taught in schools that don’t work

‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’

Receive, deceive and believe are three examples of placing the ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’. Unfortunately, this rule has too many exceptions, such as weird, foreign and leisure.

When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking

When two vowels are side-by-side in a word, the long sound of the first of the two vowels is expressed, like in the word rain. This rule also has too many exceptions, such as the ‘oi’ as in ‘coin’ and the ‘ou’ in house.

Some common spelling rules taught in schools that work

For words that end in ‘y’, the ‘y’ usually changes to an ‘i’

‘Fly’, ‘beauty’ and ‘eighty’ become ‘flies’, ‘beauties’ and ‘eighties’ when there is more than one. This occurs when a ‘y’ follows a consonant. When the ‘y’ is after a vowel, like the word ‘toy’, the ‘y’ doesn’t change. The word simply becomes ‘toys’.

English words do not end in the letters ‘ i, u, v and j’.

Many words that end in u, v or j follow with a silent final ‘e,’ such as blue, give and edge.

Australian spelling for the endings of words

‘Theatre’, ‘litre’, ‘centre’, ‘calibre’, ‘sombre’ and ‘fibre’ all end in ‘re’. Americans end these words in ‘er’, such as ‘center’. Americans also like to drop the ‘u’ from words, like ‘colour’ and swap the ‘s’ for a ‘z’, for example, ‘criticise’ is the correct spelling in Australia.

The silent ‘e’.

An ‘e’ at the end of a word makes the vowel sound longer. ‘Pride’, ‘cute’ and ‘prune’ all have a silent ‘e’. Without the silent ‘e’, the vowels are shorter. ‘Cut’, ‘strip’ and ‘plan’ have short vowel sounds and are missing the silent ‘e’.

Did you know there are 12 silent final ‘e’ rules?

Ta/ble has an ‘e’ in the 2nd syllable because ‘every syllable must have a written vowel’ many words end in ‘le’, ‘re’, or ‘ve’ for this reason.

Some hard to spell words that aren’t phonetic

English is notorious for having words that are hard to spell. But, a little knowledge of phonology, morphology and word roots makes them easier to understand and remember.

For these words, look out for the following rules.

  • Words with the letter ‘c’ can make the sound ‘s’.
  • Words with the letter ‘g’ can make the sound ‘j’ when followed by ‘e,’ giving them a soft sound.
  • Words with the letter ‘c’ followed by ‘e’, ‘i’ or ‘y’ always sound like ‘s’.
  • The letter ‘g’ also softens when followed by ‘e’, ‘i’ or ‘y’, but not always.

Here are some examples of words often spelled incorrectly.


Children can learn to spell words correctly by listening to their sound

While there are some exceptions to the rule, many words in the English language are spelled phonetically. They are written how they sound. Words such as ‘probability’, ‘monkey’ and ‘cabbage’ are some examples of phonetic words. They sound like they are written.

The sound words make is important for spelling

Breaking a word up into its syllables can help with spelling. However, the key is knowing the sounds each syllable makes. Some letters like ‘g’ make a harsh sound and a soft sound, like in the words ‘grasp’ and ‘giant’.

Some words have two letters next to each other, which create a different sound, such as the ‘ch’ in ‘church’. This can also occur with vowels. ‘Cloud’ and ‘foil’ are two examples.

Sound Spell teaches you digraphs and dipthongs. Letter combinations or graphemes are read as one sound eg s/ou/n/d.

Memorising how every word is spelled is not easy or efficient. Learning the 42 sounds and 200 ways to spell them is a lot easier.

Sound Spell can help children learn to spell correctly

Learning to spell phonetically, rather than memorising spelling lists, has proven to be the fastest and most practical way to spell. Sound Spell can help you recognise the 42 sounds and put them together correctly using letter patterns and rules, without guessing.

For over 22 years, we have researched and developed the Sound Spell program, consisting of workbooks and resources. Students will feel confident and empowered once they have mastered the code and can apply it to new words.

Contact Sound Spell to learn more. We will help you teach your child how to read and spell with a logical and systematic approach

You can help your child master spelling and reading.

Take the free Reading and Spelling Assessment and find out which Sound Spell program is right for your child.
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