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Tutor Tip of the Month

Spelling is difficult for many of us  - including scholars and writers – but it can be frustrating for learners wanting to improve their skills. Below are some tips from the book Spelling Made Simple, written by Stephen V. Ross (Doubleday, New York, 1990).

May Panganipan at Hayward’s Literacy Plus program recommends trying one or several of the strategies presented, and seeing what works best for your student. For tips on using the strategies, talk with your literacy program staff.

  • Learn only words he intends to use. If the words are not related to his experiences, they will be much more difficult to learn or remember.

  • Keep a notebook or card collection of the new words. Include sample sentences to help him remember the definition and proper use of the words.

  • Use a dictionary frequently. Learn the definitions of the words and how the words are used in the sentences in the dictionary.

  • Learn the word roots.

  • Learn the common prefixes and suffixes and how they change the meaning of words.

  • Build word groups by converting new words into other parts of speech. You can use the dictionary to help you with this activity.

  • Study the words daily using flash cards.

  • Use the words in writing and conversation.

  • Keep a notebook for new words. Include the definitions and any variations. For example, for the new word copy, his notebook entry would also include copier, copying, copied, and a sentence for each word.

  • List any synonyms or antonyms. For example, if the student lists the word wonderful, synonyms could include great and fantastic. Antonyms could include awful and terrible.

Another useful learning tool is to analyze why we make spelling mistakes or what spelling rules give us trouble. Analyze if there are any patterns to the spelling mistakes.

For example:

  • Are we confused about the muse of double consonants, such as ss or mm?

  • Do we misspell the past tenses of verbs?

  • Do we have trouble with homonyms—words that sound the same but are spelled differently?

  • Are hyphens or apostrophes our downfall?


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