7 Steps to Make You Spell Better in English

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One of the most frustrating things when learning a second language is spelling. Learning English is fun as you engage in conversions with friends, acquaintances, fellow students, and teachers (including your online tutors in LingualBox). However, when it comes to writing, you struggle in spelling, especially when faced with English words with silent letters and diphthongs (gliding vowels or the combination of two vowels in a single syllable). To help you in this area, here are 7 steps to make you spell better in English.

Be patient.

When spelling a word, you should always be exact and correct all the time. One mistake in a letter makes everything wrong. There are no shortcuts or work around them, and so learning and mastering spelling will take time and plenty of practice.

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Be more vocal.

This means you should know the correct pronunciation of each word that you are saying or using. This way, it is easier for you to remember how they are spelled. Check the correct pronunciation of the word you are attempting to spell. Say them over and over as you imagine the letters that make up the word. Again, several English words have silent letters, so it is important to familiarize yourself with them by saying and using them often.

Examples: often, castle, fasten, hasten (silent “t”); an hour, mechanic, school (silent “h”); comb, debt, doubt (silent “b”); Wednesday (silent “d”), and so on.

You can check out the internet and see a list of all English words with a silent letter. Try this site. It might even help if you print them out and create a list of these words.

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Be thorough.

The dictionary is every speller’s best friend. Upon encountering a new English word, refer to the dictionary right away to check the spelling, pronunciation, and meaning. If you wish to be more thorough, learn the etymology or history of the word. Knowing the meaning (and history) of a word can give you a good idea of when that word is probably used. This makes you a master of the English vocabulary, and familiarity with their spelling will normally follow. The better you understand a particular word, the more you will appreciate it, which will make it easier for you to remember the spelling.

Note: The dictionary is more accessible to students these days more than ever. There are searchable online dictionaries that compete to get your attention all the time. Take advantage of this technology and use the dictionary often.

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Be intentional.

The way to learn is to learn with your heart. Practice spelling each word that you feel you are not confident in writing. The diphthongs could be very tricky.

Examples: beard, weird, fierce, tear, perceive, receive, conceive.

Here’s a trick to learning how to spell difficult words like these. Write down the words while looking at how they are properly spelled in the dictionary. Now, close the dictionary and try to “see” the word in your mind’s eye. Please write it down on a piece of paper from memory. Open the dictionary and see if you got it right. Repeat the process until you have mastered spelling the word correctly. Then, use the word in a sentence to ace it’s spelling.

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Be obedient to the rules.

Here are four spelling rules you should always keep in mind and follow.

Rule 1: Write “i” before “e” except after “c,” or when sounded like “a” as in “neighbor” or “weigh.”

Examples: foreign, neighbor, reign

With exceptions to the rule: friend, fiery, mischief, view, seize, sheik, leisure, weird.

Rule 2: When a one-syllable word ends in a consonant preceded by one vowel, repeat the final consonant when adding a suffix

Examples: bat – batting, fit – fitting, sit – sitting, bid – bidding.

Rule 3: If a word ends with a silent “e,” remove the “e” when adding a suffix that begins with a vowel.

Examples: like – liking – likeness, state – stating – statement, use – using – useful.

With exceptions to the rule: true – truly, nine – ninth, argue – argument, judge – judgment.

Rule 4: When a word ends in “y,” and the “y” is preceded by a consonant, change the “y” to “i” when adding any suffix except those beginning with “i.”

Examples: try – tries, lady – ladies, happy – happiness, beauty – beautiful

Keep in mind: When forming the plural of a word that ends with a “y” preceded by a vowel, simply add an “s.”

Examples: Toy – toys, monkey – monkeys

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Be willing to learn from your mistakes.

List down the spelling errors you made and practice writing them correctly. It will help if you.

  1. Pick 10 of the most challenging words from your list,
  2. Read each word carefully at first, then spell down from memory, and
  3. Ask a friend to check whether you got your words right.

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Be persistent.

Write often. There’s no substitute for writing and often practicing if you wish to improve your spelling and mastery of the English language. Go to your LingualBox tutor and start practicing today.

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I am Edwin Estioko and I have years of experience in writing and editing for international audience. With a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Ministry, I am a published author of children's books and an elementary English textbook.