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Steps and Exercises to Improve Your Spelling Skills


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Spelling, the band of some peoples' lives and something that comes incredibly naturally to others. Either way, it is one of those things that you absolutely need to be able to do if you want to make the most of opportunities in life. If you are 50 then you may have found that you have had your opportunities limited if you cannot spell. If you are 15 then you may have thought that spelling was optional at school or found it really difficult and thus ignored teachers who tried to help you as a result. You would be surprised at just how many people fall into these categories. But you are not on your own. In addition to that, it is never too late to do something about it.

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Steps and Exercises to Improve Your Spelling Skills

  1. 1. Steps and Exercises to Improve Your Spelling Skills
  2. 2. Why Improving Spelling Skills is Important Spelling, the band of some peoples' lives and something that comes incredibly naturally to others. Either way, it is one of those things that you absolutely need to be able to do if you want to make the most of opportunities in life. If you are 50 then you may have found that you have had your opportunities limited if you cannot spell. If you are 15 then you may have thought that spelling was optional at school or found it really difficult and thus ignored teachers who tried to help you as a result. You would be surprised at just how many people fall into these categories. But you are not on your own. In addition to that, it is never too late to do something about it. No matter how old or young you are, it is important to learn how to spell properly for a number of reasons. If you are an adult then a lack of spelling knowledge could actually jeopardize any chance of getting a job that you really want if the employer has specific literacy requirements. If you are still in school then failing to learn how to spell properly could prevent you from getting the grades you would like in exams. As such, it is a serious problem that you need to address and it is never too late to do just that. So just why is spelling so important? Barker and Moorcroft have the following to say about the importance of spelling: Spelling is an important skill because it helps to create clear meanings in written English. Writers need to develop spelling strategies which they can use with confidence - leaving them free to concentrate on producing ideas and arranging and constructing them. (2002, p. 3). This may mean little to you now but if you continue through life without the ability to spell then you will find that it will limit you at every opportunity. And no, using a spell checker on a computer is not the answer and absolutely does not excuse failing to learn how to spell properly. Why? Well, aside from the fact that using a spell checker on a computer is being lazy, there is also the fact that it does not pick up every single mistake, does not recognize some of the words that we all use on a daily basis, may not actually correct a misspelling with the correct one and may even stop your work from making sense. If this theory is applied to an essay then it could drag your grades down. If it's applied to a professional letter then you will find that it does not make the correct impression and may either cost you your job or hinder your career.
  3. 3. Brown also states the following in relation to resources that people tend to go to for spelling help without actually taking the time to learn how to spell properly: If you really want to be a better speller, you have to develop your own sense of whether your spellings are right or wrong. Computer spell checks or dictionaries and other people are all useful resources, but if you depend on them all the time you won't get much better.(2002, p. 78) So what can you do to help to improve your spelling? Well, adopting a good step by step process will help you get to grips with your spelling problems. Identifying Your Spelling Weaknesses The very first step you take in any spelling improvement program should always be to identify your weaknesses when it comes to putting words onto paper. No matter how old you are or how much confidence you lack in your overall spelling ability, you will find that you are stronger in some areas than others. In truth, this should always be the first step in any program but it is often completely left out because authors of spelling improvement programs tend to take it for granted that you already know what your spelling weaknesses are. However, whether it seems obvious or not in theory, it is a staple element in this particular spelling improvement plan. Please note that you need only take this particular step once if you want to. Your spelling weaknesses should be identified before you take on any of the further steps but you do not need to do it again when you are looking at starting to work through them again in the future. However, you might find that you benefit from going through this step again because resolving the first issues that you find to be hampering your spelling might actually reveal some new spelling weaknesses that you did not realize you had before. The choice is yours but it is absolutely necessary to take this step at least once.
  4. 4. Why? According to Suarez & Suarez: "Lists, especially standardized lists, are an ineffective way to study spelling and are a waste of time." (Suarez & Suarez, 2006, p. 235). Despite this fact, teachers still teach using standardised lists and those people looking to improve their spelling skills also tend to go into it blind by using them. Because it is an accepted teaching method, no matter how effective it is or not for those learning how to spell. So what has this got to do with identifying your spelling weaknesses? Well, the debate over standardised teaching has an awful lot to do with spelling weaknesses because it takes every student of spelling and lumps them all together in the same box, so to speak. There is no individualism with this method at all. Instead, everyone is treated the same. The problem is that this is not conducive to improving the spelling skills that everyone has. Remember what Easton said - that everyone learns in a different way and so not all techniques may suit you (2007, p. 18). As a result, standardised lists do not suit everyone. They may not even address your personal weaknesses because all of the words on the list may be words that you are fine with and know how to spell. In turn, this is deceptive because it would suggest that you do not have a problem with spelling but rather believe that you have a weakness and have developed a phobia as a result of it (Wearmouth, Soler & Reid, 2002, p. 347). This is not the case though. Although you may well have a phobia as a result of your spelling weakness, regardless of what standardised tests may say, if you feel that you have spelling weaknesses then you need to find out what they are to be able to deal with them. Essential Exercises and Techniques There are many ways and means by which you can find out exactly where your spelling weaknesses lie. Although you do not have to of all of the exercises, it may be worth doing a couple of them in case they identify different weaknesses for you to look at.
  5. 5. It should be noted that all of these exercises are suitable for people of all ages. They are simple but generic exercises that take anywhere from five to thirty minutes a piece and none of them have defined levels. Simply put, this means that you can do them regardless of age, reading level, existing spelling level and learning difficulties. If you really want to find out as much as possible about the spelling weaknesses that you need to address then we suggest that you work through each exercise in turn: 1. Take a pen and piece of paper and write a short story of around 500 words. You should write the story using the words that you would normally use when speaking. It does not have to make sense or even be any good (you are the only one that sees it if you choose) but it should include words that you normally steer clear of using on paper because you always get confused as to how to spell them. When you have finished, read through the story an pay close attention to the spelling. Underline all the words that you think are wrong in a red pen and then check them against the spelling that is used in a dictionary. Highlight the ones that you have spelled wrong with a yellow highlighter. After you have taken this step, type out your story onto a Word document on the computer, turning off the automatic correction facility. After that, use the spell check to identify words that are incorrect and note their correct spelling on the sheet of paper, using the highlighter again. This way, you have identified words that you have difficulty spelling and have created your own list to use in the coming chapters. 2. Get a newspaper story from a broadsheet newspaper and make sure that it is one that you would not necessarily read. Again, take a highlighter and outline any words that you would not normally know how to spell. Compile a list from those words and note down any patterns. For example, you may find that there are certain letter patterns that you get mixed up or non-standard words that prove to be difficult. Angelisi said that: "Encouraging students to search for certain spelling patterns in words can help them remember the spelling of the word better", with patterns being rhyming patterns, consonant or vowel clusters, prefixes and suffixes (2000, p. 5). As such, looking for them from the start can help to identify weaknesses in any of these particular areas.
  6. 6. 3. Use spelling games, such as flash cards, and puzzles, such as crosswords, to identify spelling weaknesses. This is a fun way of finding out what areas you lack in. You can use crosswords that are basic or more difficult in nature but you should know the answers, or know someone that does. From there spell the words how you think they are spelled. You will soon find out which ones are wrong and which ones are right from the answers. You will also be able to identify whether you learn to spell better via sounds or via using mental images. Most people that try crosswords do either one automatically so just complete the puzzle as you normally would but pay more attention as to how you go about spelling. 4. Use some of the standardised spelling tests that are available online. Although it is never a good idea to use standardised spelling tests to learn how to spell effectively or improve the skills that you already have, they can be very useful in identifying any issues that you may have. They come in many varieties but the proof reading ones are perhaps the best. You essentially have multiple choice questions that you need to answer. You should use logic and reasoning to answer each of the questions and you will soon find out which words cause you problems. Again, this can help to identify patterns that you have issues with. NEVER guess the answers or else you will not know where you are going wrong. Some example questions can be found below and have been taken from an online quiz by British newspaper The Guardian: Which of the following is correct? Milenium Millenium Milennium Millennium Which of the following is NOT correct? cemetery definitely accidentally accommodate
  7. 7. What is the standard spelling of this word, means tiny? minisscule miniscule minuscule minuschule You can make each of these as fun or as serious as you like. Take whatever measures work for you but follow all of the golden rules for finding out your spelling weaknesses. They are outlined below for you: 1. You need to be able to concentrate and act as naturally as you can when following each of the exercises. 2. Never try harder than you normally would. 3. Only ever guess at how to spell something when that is what you would normally do. 4. Never use a dictionary or other spelling tool unless instructed to do so by the exercise guidelines. 5. Try to reason when you are spelling out a word when you routinely would do so but remember how you did so 6. Always pay attention to how you try to spell words ? trying out versions of the word on paper, working it out in your head, trying out the sounds, picturing the word mentally%u2026 If you stick to these golden rules and follow the exercises perfectly then you will soon find out what your spelling weaknesses are. If you have trouble with certain sounds or patterns then you will notice them. If you have issues with certain words or spelling rules then they will quickly become clear. However, if you have trouble in many areas then prioritise those areas and work on one at a time. If you do this then you will find that it is easier to retain knowledge and your spelling will improve greatly over time.
  8. 8. Use Your Visual Memory The visual memory is defined as ”any memory for which the stored information was acquired initially by the visual system%u2026 To qualify as a visual memory, then, the memory must retain properties of the original perceptual states generate when the memory was encoded." (Luck & Hollingworth, 2008, p. 3). This generally means that you see something, visualize it in your mind and then use that mental picture to spell words correctly. This may sound complex but it is actually quite simple when you get used to using this technique. And you have to tap into your visual memory because it is one of the most powerful tools you have in your quest to improve your spelling ability and it can make the largest possible impact in a short space of time. In truth, there has been an awful lot written on the concept of using visual memory to improve your spelling because it is a strategy that has been used with increasing regularity by teachers, academics and tutors to teach people how to improve their spelling and also to teach very young children how to spell. Taking the step to improve your spelling via visual memory has many advantages such as: 1. Visual memory strategies are easy to remember because the brain is programmed to receive images and process them. In doing so, the very same images are committed to memory and so you can call on them if you need to. This makes spelling easier. 2. The visual memory can be used by adults and children alike so it provides everyone looking to improve their spelling with a major advantage, although the techniques used to do so do vary between adults and children, which will be discussed a little later. 3. It adds a little fun to the step by step program to improve spelling, which is essential in helping you to engage with it. If it appears to be boring from the outset then you are far more likely to give up. 4. Using the visual memory gets results. Even if you find it easier to spell using sounds or patterns, you will find that you will benefit from using mental images because at least some of them will stick. It will also prepare your mind for those later techniques so that you do not have to work so hard to get it going.
  9. 9. The visual memory should also be used because it will help you to improve your spelling by providing you with images that you can associate with the way in which you spell certain words. The visual cues can help you to build your vocabulary, get creative and struggle far less when it comes to writing a letter or taking an exam. The images can be anything from paintings to wall charts to posters to words as they are printed in books and newspapers. Take what Powell and Hornsby have to say on the matter as an example: "Although they know that sounding out the word won't help them, [people] often feel that if they write the word out how they think it may be spelled, they will be able to judge whether it's correct or not by looking at it. They are, therefore, relying on their visual memory." (1993, p. 28). This may not be how you think of visual memory but it still comes under this heading nevertheless. How Effective is This Step? Although some people do not have a very good visual memory and will struggle with this particular step, it is highly effective for the vast majority of people. According to Powell and Hornsby, the visual memory is actually one of the best possible spelling strategies that you can use because it allows you to build up a series of images in your mind so you can access them as and when you want to in order to spell specific words that you have been having problems with (1993, p. 29). As such, this can work for anyone who wants to take advantage of the method and has the visual memory to be able to retain those images. The effectiveness of using the visual memory is evident in the fact that it is the method used to teach small children how to spell right from kindergarten age. It is highly common and can be used for the same purpose as you get older. Flash cards and other such images are often used to help children to form the mental images that they will forever associate with simple words to help to recall them at a later date (Kumar, 2006, p. 137). Although adults and older children will probably not need to learn how to spell "cat", "mat", "dog", "bird", "mother" or "father", the same principles apply. The visual cues older people need to use are far more complex than those on flash cards but they are just as effective and work just as well in the long term.
  10. 10. Did you know that the effectiveness of visual memory is dependent on the way in which the brain organises information and how it connects all the pieces of the puzzle, which is what spelling is to you if you are struggling: "All memory can be dramatically assisted if the information to memorise is organised and categorised in a meaningful way. For young children, without significant experience of the printed work, such help is vitally important." (Jackman, 2002, p. 16). This is why you can tap into visual cues and override the part of your brain that currently has you spelling everything incorrectly. Think about it ? if you can picture the word then you are able to identify where you are making a mistake in terms of ordering letters incorrectly. If you can picture the word then you are less likely to second guess yourself, more likely to spell it correctly and feel more confident in your ability to do so as well. All of the above may sound like complete rubbish, and it is to a certain degree. It is simply academic talk for ? it helps you to picture the words letter by letter so you do not have to make the same mistakes that keep annoying you. Use your mind. The tools you need to use your visual memory and improve your spelling are already there for you. They are already in your mind and can help you to convert spelling into a conscious process that causes you a lot of difficulty into the subconscious process that people that can spell use. Eventually, if you use the visual memory technique properly, you will find that you will be able to spell without even thinking about it (Goulandris, 1992, p. 154) but you will need to do many exercises under this particular step and work hard before that happens. Essential Exercises and Techniques There are numerous essential exercises and techniques that can be used in order to make the most of this particular visual memory step. Before we take a look at some of them though, it is necessary to point out that you will need to practice each strategy regularly for it to work. It will not simply happen overnight. Like anything else, you reap what you sow so make sure you put the effort in before moving onto the next step. Another point to make is that you can tailor each and every single one of these exercises to suit you. Depending on how old you are and what the spelling weaknesses you discovered are, you may want to change those below. If this is the case then feel free to do so because you should really use whatever works for you.
  11. 11. Here are a few techniques, strategies and games that may work for you: For Everyone 1. Get creative with words. Compose rhymes using the letters of words you are having difficulty with. Many people would have done this when they were young children and the principle still works really well for older children and adults. For example, if you cannot spell MISSISSIPPI then simply remember My Irritating Sister Said I Shouldn?t Surprise Irate People Pretty Ignorantly. Alternatively, NECESSARY could be Nobody Eats Cereal Every Sunday Sausages Are Really Yummy! Write the rhymes down with a few funny drawings and you will find that you are able to visualise them and spell them effectively. 2. Use games to get a grip on your spelling. For example, you could use Scrabble letters to spell out words or relabel your Monopoly board with words you have trouble with. Playing such popular and yet simple games can really help to boost your memory because you will be able to visualise the letters and labels on the board the next time you have difficulty with individual words. 3. You can use a map to improve your spelling quickly and easily because it gives you a focal point and one that you can visualise when it comes to remembering how to spell individual words. This may sound a little strange but it really does help to improve your spelling because places will jump out at you to help you to remember how to spell. You can use the American states to learn how to spell or the countries of the world by using the first letters of each country to compose words. For example, ARITHMETIC can be America Russia Ireland Turkey Honduras Mexico Egypt Tunisia Iran Canada. Or Alaska Rhode Island Texas Hawaii MainE Tennessee Idaho California. It not only helps you to learn how to spell but can increase wider knowledge too. If you have a good visual memory then this is an excellent technique.
  12. 12. For Children Use all the toys you have at your disposal to create visual images that will help you learn to spell. If you have building blocks available then use them to build words. The time spent building each word will help to create a sustained memory of it and then you will be able to picture the final result. This technique should be used with all of the words you are having problems spelling, taking ten words at a time. You will soon find that you are able to remember the words off by heart after a couple of days of playing this game for thirty minutes to an hour. For Adults 1. Use visual cues on a daily basis and incorporate them into your daily routine. For example, if you want to improve your spelling around your work life then why not do so during your work life. You could create your own flash cards of objects that you cannot spell the name of effectively and place them on your desk, or label the machines you work with in the same way. You will not only be able to remember the image but also where it was placed and recall an accurate spelling from it as a result. 2. As an alternative to the exercise above, use post it notes to write out words you are having a little trouble with and place them around your home. You could place them on the TV or fridge. Again, you will then be able to test yourself on your spelling by remembering where the post it is and how to spell the word is written on it. It does not stimulate children and so is not ideal for them but it is a good idea for adults that want to squeeze in a little unconscious learning. Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive and you may find a whole host of other visual memory techniques that work for you but they will give you a good idea of exactly where to start. You should note that the use of a newspaper or book and the flash card techniques are not mentioned in any of these points. There is a reason for that ? all of the techniques outlined here are designed for older children and adults. The flash cards are used by young children and so are useless here and the newspaper technique is something that you might begin to use when you get a little more practice in. Do not try to run before you can walk!
  13. 13. Speaking of which, there are some guidelines to using the visual memory technique. For example, you need to make sure that you can picture whatever cue you use in your mind’s eye after the event. If you cannot then you may be thinking about it in the wrong way or rushing through it. Take your time and you will find that it comes that much easier to you. Alternatively, you may not be following the golden rule of keeping it simple because overcomplicating the techniques will just add to the confusion your lack of spelling skills has probably caused anyway. Try using your hobbies to make spelling fun and not a chore because that will also improve the impact of the visual memory technique. Finally, do whatever works for you and do not be afraid to change the games and techniques described above if you find a better way of learning to improve your spelling effectively. They are not set in stone and you will soon find what works for you when taking this particular step. As a result, you should have faith in yourself enough to alter any of them if you feel they will work that much better. When you have spent sufficient time on this step and feel that you have made a little progress, move onto the next one! Hear, Sound, Spell So now we move from the way in which you can use the visual cues to improve spelling to the way in which words sound. This is a logical progression and one that you might find really works to help reinforce what you have already learned. Those people that find it difficult to work with their visual memory should find the hear, sound, spell technique relatively easy to use. The technique itself is relatively simple to use because it just involves the three steps that are suggested in the title of this particular module but before we go into why you should take this step, you should be aware of a few points. First of all, it is a fact that not all words sound the way they are written on paper so this step can be a little tough. In fact, this step can be difficult and frustrating for that very reason. No matter which words you have problems with, you are guaranteed to have issues with at least some of them for this reason. The next step after this one will tell you exactly how to deal with them so do not panic. Just focus the words that you can use this technique for and you will find that it is that little bit simpler than you would otherwise believe.
  14. 14. Providing that you know the point made above, you will find that it is a simple step to take, especially because it focuses on one particular element of spelling/. In many ways, it is like the visual memory step for that. It will not suit everyone and you may find the whole technique difficult to process but regardless of how hard you find it, you will learn something as a result of it. It will reinforce everything you have learned so far. After all, when you can identify the difference in the way a word sounds and why there is a difference, however subtle the letter combinations may sound, then you will find it so much easier to improve your spelling ability (Robbins & Kenny, 2007, p. 17). How Effective is This Step? Using the hear, sound, spell technique is incredibly effective in improving your spelling knowledge because it does not rely on your memory in any way, shape or form. As such, it is literally diametrically opposed to the visual memory technique. Despite that, it complements the previous step really well because to forces you to use a completely different part of your brain. You have to use your sense instead to learn how to spell certain words. Using your senses can be very effective in learning all about the world you live in. We learn common sense as a result of relying on the way things look, smell, feel and sound rather than relying on all of the stories that we remember being told as young children. Although we do tend to commit things to memory and like to recall them to help us out from time to time, the memory can be a little faulty and unreliable. As Sterling and Robson points out in relation to spelling: "%u2026the less well known a word the less the speller can rely on visual memory (the lexical route) and the more he or she has to rely on generating the spelling using phonology and sound-spelling correspondences." (1992, p. 182). The whole point of this is that you cannot rely on your memory to improve your spelling so you should work on your other skills as well. Think about it ? what are you more likely to remember? The words to your favourite song or a chapter of your favourite book word for word? The sounds trump the visuals.
  15. 15. Providing that you know all of the rules of spelling, such as I before E except after C, you will find this is one of the most effective steps that you will ever take in your quest to improve your spelling (Schmitt, 2000, p. 122). As such, you need some exercises to complete to make sure that it works for you! Essential Exercises and Techniques The hear, sound, spell technique can be practiced in a number of ways because there are plenty of exercises that you can take advantage of. All of the exercises can be used by children or adults alike because there is absolutely nothing visual about them. The problem with the exercises in the previous step centered on the fact that some of them were more childish than others because of the nature of the visuals. However, there is nothing childish about the way you learn to spell via sound in any way. Even if you chose to use nursery rhymes, it would simply be a useful tool. However, you should know that some of the exercises might be a little boring. If you find that this is the case then just alter them to make them a little more fun. You should always make sure that you are having fun with the hear, sound, spell technique because it is easy to lose focus and let your concentration drift. Check out the following exercises to help you sound spelling knowledge: 1. Focus on the sounds of individual words by using rhythm. Rap music, songs and jingles are ideal for introducing you to specific sounds. Using football chants, for example, will highlight syllables and help you to inject a little fun into learning all about this step. Bearne states the following: "Rhythm and intonation are very useful and you might even be able to pick up the rhythms of raps, sports supporters' chants or jingles which the children are familiar with." (1998, p. 229). As such, you can make up your own jingles or use those that already exist. Make sure you choose those with words in that you struggle with though or else this exercise will be pointless.
  16. 16. 2. Choose an episode of your favourite TV show and sit with your back to the screen. Get a pen and paper and listen to the dialogue. Identify words that you know you would have trouble spelling or are not really aware of and write them down, pausing the show as you go so you can concentrate on it. Watch the show through several times and each time look for something different? the syllables, letter clusters, inflections. By the final time you listen to the dialogue you should be pretty confident that you got all the words right. Then check them with a dictionary. You will find that you will learn a lot from this exercise but be sure to set aside at least a couple of hours for it because it may take a while. 3. Take advantage of a friend. Choose words that you know you have trouble spelling and then get your friend to say them out loud. This can be a lot of fun, even though it may sound boring from the initial description. You can ask your friend to slow the word right down, elongating syllables, isolate the syllables so they are said separately and even joke around with them. The point is that you can listen to the sounds from someone else's mouth and spell them as they are spoken. 4. Choose your favorite songs and listen to them over and over again, choosing words that you do not know how to spell, much as with the TV show example. The difference here is that you can sing the words out loud and hearing them come from your own mouth is an excellent aid. In fact, using any MP3 files or CD works just as well, from audio books right through to speeches. These exercises represent just a few of the options you have available to you so do not hesitate to get creative. There are no rules to follow at all other than the fact you have to focus because losing focus can actually seriously hamper your ability to spell. One final point before we move onto the next, do not worry about your dialect. If you have a regional accent then words may sound a little different to how they are spelled for this reason. You will find though that if you slow words down and carefully pronounce each letter cluster then your accent disappears. Speaking of which, the ensuing step will provide you with an excellent way of avoiding the potential problem here. Let us move onto word identification and association.
  17. 17. Word Identification and Association Word identification and association is not a common technique that is associated with improving spelling skills. Despite that, it is a very useful tool that many academics and researchers agree upon as an essential component of the improvement process for children and adults alike with limited spelling abilities. Word identification is very popular because it already links up with the general knowledge that you have. For example, it assumes that you already have a little knowledge of the individual words and can recognize them visually but it does not place emphasis on visual cues or the way that the word sounds. In short, it is completely different to those techniques that have been outlined in the previous two steps. It adds another dimension to your learning and can improve other areas of literacy as well. If you feel that your reading could do with a boost then it can certainly help you there (Smith, 2004, p. 91). Word identification and association is also a little different to the techniques that have previously been used because it can be used on a short term basis to improve your knowledge of spelling and reinforce the previous two steps. If you only have a little time then this will be ideal for you. This step is particularly important because it gives you the ability to break down words after recognising them. It does mean that you have to be able to break individual words into distinct sounds that you can then spell out, which is why it is placed directly after the step that concerns sounding and spelling words. You need the skills that you have learned in the previous step to make the most of this one. Breaking words down is a key skill for those looking to improve their spelling and one that should, in truth, already be utilized as a part of your learning techniques if you had been taught to spell effectively when you were younger. If you do not know how to break down words as yet then now is the time to learn because it is an absolute must for identifying a huge range of words. Smith points out that you can break words down in several ways, whether by sound or by visualising the letters (2004, p. 91).
  18. 18. How Effective is This Step? This technique is short and simple. It does not require a huge effort to change the way you think or tools that are expensive. All you have to do is be able to read a word, break it into letter clusters that you find easy to remember and take it from there. Although it can take a little getting used to as a strategy, you will find that it gets easier after the first few words. From there, you will find that you do it subconsciously when learning new words. As such, it is a process that will come naturally. Word identification and association is incredibly effective for children and adults alike because all you need is a basic knowledge of how to spell smaller words. According to Angelisi, "teaching children to break down large, unfamiliar words into smaller, more recognizable words [which] helps them to, eventually, decipher the meaning of those tough words." (2000, p. 6). If adults are not used to this process then the process of learning this technique will boost spelling for them too! If you can spell the basic words that kindergarten children learn and are aware of how they sound then you will be able to apply those words and sounds to the more complex words that you are struggling to learn how to spell. It is not complicated at all and once you know it then you will never forget it. Your mind will subconsciously recognize those sounds in future as well so learning just one word will improve your spelling of other words too (Smith, 2004, p. 92). Essential Exercises and Techniques These exercises are suitable for adults and children alike but you might find that you need to tailor them a bit to suit your existing knowledge. As well, these can be easily changed to suit you so if you read through this list and find them a little boring then just inject a little fun. Providing that you stick to the basic premise, you will find this very easy to do.
  19. 19. You may also find a few of these exercises a little familiar from previous steps. They do cross over quite well and so will build on the knowledge that you already have. 1. Flash cards are ideal for this particular strategy. In the visual memory step, one of the exercises suggested making image cards to place around the workplace or home to help you visualise words. They can be used here too. You need to be able to identify the words and recognise them, which is the purpose that the image serves, before breaking them down into letter clusters and learning how to spell them individually. You may find that the images are a distraction when you combine the two techniques. If this is the case then simply create plain cards with nothing but the words on them. A tip here is to use different colours for each of the letter clusters so that they stand out. Alternatively, you could use letters from magazines or newspapers to make the letters stand out. 2. Word identification can also be learned via word games. Lexicon and Scrabble can provide you with individual letters that you can use to break words down into distinct letter clusters If you find that a little too simplistic then use word searches and crosswords. The grid will help you to separate the letters that little bit better without actually having separate tiles/cards to work with. 3. Wall charts are perfect for word identification, no matter how old you are. Although the average adult probably does not want a wall display in their home, it really can help to boost spelling improvement via word identification and association because "students can visually be reminded of any words that may be useful in helping them decode the meanings of words, remember spelling and writing patterns of words." (Angelisi, 2000, p. 6). Use a range of pictures and letters to create words that you can take a good look at whenever you are in the room. If you do not want to dedicate a whole wall to spelling improvement then just get a chart that you can tack to the wall and take down at your convenience. A wall chart should feature all the letters of the alphabet, each of which should be moveable so that you can spell out different words as and when you are learning them, but there is nothing to stop you getting a little more creative. Just go with it and see where the wall display takes you. You should note that this list is by no means exhaustive. There are plenty of other ideas that you can try to improve your word identification and association, from puzzles to visual aids. No matter how you use them though, you should really make sure that they are fun for you because this is the best possible way for you to learn.