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Helping ESL students with their spelling

Tricks to teach ESL spelling strategies

It can be challenging for teachers to teach their ESL students some spelling strategies. There are many inconsistencies in English with regards to spelling, meaning and pronunciation. Here are a few tricks to help teachers and students with their spelling.

  • Using memory tricks or mnemonics
    e.g. Mosquito contains the word "quit" - That mosquito better quit biting me.
  • Understanding words that sound alike
    e.g. lead/led, conscious/conscience 
  • Trying a rhyming helper
    e.g. Spell, smell, fell, tell, shell
  • Listing problem parts
    E.g. restaurant, privilege, misspell
  • Use rhymes to remember the spelling rule
    E.g. “i” before “e” ,except after “c”
  • Use acronyms to help distinguish between homophones
    E.g. RAVEN (R – Remember, A – Affect, V – Verb, E – Effect, N – Noun) to remember difference between affect/effect
  • Use parts of the word to help you remember
    E.g. “Beleive” or “believe”? = Do you beLIEve a LIE? Or “Acceptable” or “acceptible”? = ACCEPT a TABLE.
  • "Silent e helps a vowel say its name."
    e.g. rat/rate, hid/hide, cub/cube
  • "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking?"
    When there are two vowels in a row, the first usually has a long sound and the second is silent e.g.team not taem.
  • A good way to understand a word is to break it into syllables and compare parts to other words that are familiar to find patterns.
    E.g. traditional may make you think of spelling functional and national. 
  • Use funny memory aids
    E.g. desert/dessert - Remember that with dessert, you'd like seconds, so we use two s’s. Or to spell “separate” - Remember that there's a rat in the middle.