The Spelling Society’s Guide To Better Spelling

You’ve taken this in – now for the kids!

It will probably take you quite a while to take in and remember all the rules and sub-rules of English spelling and to come to terms with just how many irregularities to be memorised there are. If, however, having read so far you think that the rules outlined are moderately helpful and that they and the various tips will reduce the number of irregularities to be learnt, we have the following suggestions as to how you get it over to your kids.

(i) Get a good dictionary. It’ll save arguments!

(ii) Start with the consonants first, explaining which are the ones that have totally predictable sounds.

(iii) Go through the consonants that can represent more than one sound. Explain the rules that can usually be relied on, eg c, sc, g, th, x, & y; be prepared to spend a little more time on ch, and s; take some time to deal with the exceptions.

(iv) Go on to the vowels. Start by getting your child to recognise that the sounds in the second column are the regular way of representing the letters in the first column.

(v) Go to the third column and get your child to recognise the less frequent ways of representing the sound (eg –ign, -ild, -old, -aste, etc).

(vi) Spend some time going through the tricky vowel combinations which can represent more than one sound. Get your child to recognise what is the regular representation of the letter combination (as we define it in this booklet) before dealing with other sounds that these combinations can represent.

(vii) Explain the magic e and doubling rules in principle.

(viii) Explain the tips that help to reduce the number of exceptions that have to be learnt to the above.

(ix) Draw up a list of common irregular words that just have to be learnt and get the child to memorise them gradually.

As an additional aid, you can go through texts that your child has to learn and mark the relevant letter combinations with a red, blue or brown pencil as appropriate – if it’s a school text book, copy the page in whichever way seems best and colour the copy! Alternately, use a normal pencil to strike out letters that are redundant, (including those that should not be doubled), add a dot above letters that are not doubled when they should be, and underline irregular words or the elements in them that don’t follow the rules.

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