Ultimate Spelling For Education

Ultimate Spelling EDU is the world's most advanced spelling learning system for schools. With Ultimate Spelling, you have your spelling teaching requirements completely under control.

Based on proven science, Ultimate Spelling EDU contains all the features of Ultimate Spelling plus:

It's absolutely essential your students graduate with their spelling educational requirements met. With Ultimate Spelling EDU these spelling requirements are more than met. Students also improve academic performance, are prepared for standardized tests, and improve their confidence.

The next step is to see Ultimate Spelling for yourself. Simply fill out the form and we'll send you a free no obligation trial of the full version of Ultimate Spelling EDU.

The Science

Ultimate Spelling is scientifically designed, and utilizes principles based on decades of research in learning, retention, and psychology. Here is a summary of the theory and research behind Ultimate Spelling's effectiveness.

Craik, F., and Tulving, E. "Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 104(3) (1975): 268-294. Print and PDF. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.104.3.268

In this seminal study performed at the University of Toronto, Canada, the authors performed a series of tests in which they gave the study participants a sequence of words to learn, with information related to each word as it appeared in order. They discovered that when the information provided stimulated the participant's brain to process the word on a more involved level (referred to as "deep encoding" or "degree of elaboration" in the study), that word was more effectively learned and remembered. With Ultimate Spelling, the user is given a wide range of additional information about each spelling word, including the word's definition - one of the key factors in enhanced memory, according to this study - as well as usage examples, synonyms, and antonyms.

Gelman, B.D., Gruber, M.J., and Ranganath, C. "States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit." Neuron, 22 October 2014, 84(2): 486-496. Web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.060

Students who are eager to learn are more likely to remember what they have learned, something that the authors of this study demonstrate. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show real-time connections between a person's curiosity about a specific topic, and the production of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and the brain's reward system. The authors also concluded that a higher level of interest and curiosity in a topic or question leads to better memory and enhanced learning. Including exercises that stimulate curiosity, and providing reward mechanisms as part of the study process, also increases a person's ability to absorb and retain information, as the researchers found. Ultimate Spelling has a text import feature that allows each user to include and incorporate practice material that matches their interests, while learning the spelling of words in those texts. The system also uses several different reward systems to encourage users to continue working towards their defined goals.

Garcia, S.M., Tor, A., and Schiff, T.M. "The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective." Perspectives on Psychological Science, November 2013, 8(6):634-650. Print and web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1745691613504114

Each person is influenced by a unique set of factors related to their own status and progress towards goals, but is also affected to a greater or lesser degree by the achievements and perceived standards of the people around them. This analysis of past and current studies looks at the way people view and are motivated by individual goals as well as societal achievement (competition). The authors conclude that effective use of motivational strategies must take both into account. This is something that Ultimate Spelling accomplishes by providing each user with the ability to set personal goals, earn reward points, and view their own progress tracking reports, and also to publish all of those results on public social media platforms.

Kivetz, R., Urminsky, O., and Zheng, Y. "The Goal-Gradient Hypothesis Resurrected: Purchase Acceleration, Illusionary Goal Progress, and Customer Retention." Journal of Marketing Research, February 2006, 43(1):39-58. Web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jmkr.43.1.39

In a study focusing on the influence of reward-scheme programs on behavior, the authors found that when people see visible progress towards their goals they are more likely to increase the activity required to reach those goals. The study also confirms that most people are also motivated by receiving rewards for completing specific activities, even if those rewards are not immediately transferable to actual material or monetary benefits. Status points, rewards, and real-time progress tracking are all methods used in Ultimate Spelling to encourage frequent spelling practice by awarding points for the completion of exercises and activities. Because the user can access their progress charts at any time, they will always be able to see how close they are to achieving their personal spelling goals.

Buton, M., Winterbauer, N., and Todd, T. "Relapse processes after the extinction of instrumental learning: Renewal, resurgence, and reacquisition." Behavioural Processes, May 2012, 90(1): 130–141. Print and web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2012.03.004

Instrumental learning, also called "operant conditioning," is a method by which behaviors are learned in connection with a stimulus, a reward, or both. In this research done at the University of Vermont, the authors studied the ways in which the information connected to a specific behavior is retained when the stimulus is removed, and how subsequent repetition or reward reinforces information recall and a resumption of previously learned behaviors. They conclude that there are two primary methods of reinforcing active memory and behavior: by creating a different way to test the subject's memory, and by providing the opportunity for intensive focused repetition of that stimulus-behavior response. These two methods are widely used in the Ultimate Spelling activities and games to create the link between instruction and memory that is so crucial in effective spelling learning on the student's part.

Xue, G., Mei, L., Chen, C., Lu, Z-L., Poldrack, R., Dong, Q. "Spaced Learning Enhances Subsequent Recognition Memory by Reducing Neural Repetition Suppression." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 2011;23(7):1624-1633. Print and web. http://doi:10.1162/jocn.2010.21532

In this study comparing long-term and short-term memory, the study authors tested the neural activity of participants as they memorized a set of images. Half of the study participants used massed learning techniques, in which each new image was presented multiple times in a row; the other half were given the images in a spaced repetition mode, where the images were shown in alternating order. Although each participant saw each image the same number of times, the people in the spaced-repetition exercise were able to accurately remember more images, and for a longer period of time. Repetition is a key technique in learning spelling, and Ultimate Spelling incorporates spaced repetition in two ways. First, the system uses randomized selection of spelling words from the user's current list to populate the activities and exercises, ensuring an interval between word reviews. Second, the system's Word Discover feature provides pop-up instant review of the words on that list, again in random order. By providing users with multiple opportunities throughout the day to read and review their words, Ultimate Spelling provides all of the benefits of the spaced repetition methodology in its spelling instruction.

Blocki, J., Cranor, L., Datta, A., and Komanduri, S. "Spaced Repetition and Mnemonics Enable Recall of Multiple Strong Passwords." Cornell University Library, January 3, 2015. PDF. http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.1490v2

Spaced repetition is a memory training tool that relies on frequent and consistent review of information; mnemonics is a memory technique that involves multiple ways of looking at that information, such as the incorporation of images or story lines. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University focused on the combination of spaced repetition and mnemonics in evaluating how best to train people to remember specific pieces of information: computer passwords. They found that by combining the two methodologies, the results in both ease of learning and retention were increased. Ultimate Spelling uses each method separately and together to help users learn and remember new spelling words by using the same words in multiple exercises, presenting spelling words in a variety of formats, and encouraging users to add information related to each word to make a personal connection that helps them to remember that word and its correct spelling.

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Hip hop is for everyone, no language barrier – the same love!

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How To Improve Your Spelling Skills Teacher-Free

While a teacher or tutor can offer you valuable support when learning spelling, you don’t actually need one to perfect your orthography skills. There are plenty of activities you can practice on your own and improve your spelling efficiency, starting now.

Let’s do a short quiz to start out with. In the comments section below, let us know which words are misspelled. If you’re a good speller, give us the correct spelling, too!








What You Can Do To Improve Your Spelling Level Today

Online Spelling Games

Spelling doesn’t have to be a bore. You can improve your spelling with fun games and interesting activities. There are several free online games you can play that help you perfect your ability to spell even the hardest words.

Fun Brain offers its own spelling game online, in which you need to mark the misspelled word and provide the correct orthography for it.

Try this interactive YouTube spelling game or play the addictive (but oh so efficient) Spelling Bee game by Visual Thesaurus. In this multimedia game, you’ll first hear the word being pronounced, and then get a chance to spell it in the space provided.

AAASpell is another web tool for practicing your spelling. Create your very own spelling list and focus on getting those words right. This is ideal for practicing words that you constantly misspell.

Once you create your spelling list you can play various activities with it, listen to the audio pronunciation and type the word out, figure out its spelling with one or two letters missing, or remove an incorrect extra letter to get the right spelling. Here’s an example list using the names of parts of the body.

Mobile Apps

If you’re into apps, you can try Brilliant Spelling, a free app that offers you activities such as an interactive tutor pronouncing words. It also provides customizability by letting you enter your own word list for practice.

A top rated spelling app that’s free to download is Skill Builder Spelling which is available for Android smartphones and tablets. Spelling Bee is another Android app with over 2,300 words available to learn.

Spoiler Alert! Watch out for the Ultimate Spelling™ OS / Android App SOON.

Ultimate Spelling™ Web Application

For a more rigorous and science-driven spelling practice try Ultimate Spelling™, a cloud-based software that offers you hundreds of lessons, games, and fun activities to improve your spelling.

Not only do you get expert-designed activities but you also benefit from progress tracking, goal setting, and social media sharing features.

What’s more, you can use it on any device that’s Internet enabled so you can practice whenever and wherever you go.

Get a Spelling Buddy

You can play Scramble to your heart’s content online, but nothing can improve your spelling more quickly than a spelling buddy.

Not only will you hold each other accountable for your progress and motivate each other to try harder, but you will also find it more enjoyable and interactive to practice together.

Whether it’s the old classic Scramble or coming up with fun mnemonics for difficult to spell words, a buddy will help you achieve your spelling skill goals faster and in a way that feels more like play rather than boring learning.

Remember that spelling doesn’t have to do with talent or some innate ability. It’s all a matter of practice. You can be a spelling bee champion if you put enough effort in to it!

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How To Improve Your Spelling Skills Teacher-Free

English Spelling Oddities Explained In Just 4 Minutes

If you’ve ever wondered why English spelling is so weird, watch this video for a global and historical perspective on modern English spelling rules.

English Spelling Oddities Explained In Just 4 Minutes

7 Strategic Ways to Improve Spelling

Does spelling give you a hard time? You’re not alone. Due to our growing reliance on autocorrect and spellcheckers, we generally pay little attention to spelling rules and patterns these days.

Of course, you might wonder why you should bother to learn how to spell “committed” (which is with double “m” and double “t” by the way) since your spellchecker will automatically fix it for you?

For one thing, great spelling gives you confidence in writing and typing without the looming fear that you will miss a misspelling and embarrass yourself. These seven tips will help you improve spelling and get to be a spelling Master — something to boast about to your friends.

Use a Dictionary

Print dictionaries might be soon going extinct but until then nothing can match a good, bulky dictionary. If you don’t own one, there are great online ones: Merriam-Webster and Oxford to name a few.

Spelling is not only dependent on how good your memory is. Because your mind can recall only so many words, it’s important to have a reliable reference point for when memory abandons you.

Get Your Mental Orthographic Images Right

Researchers argue that although we learn spelling rules at school, like the notorious “I before E except after C”, our brains don’t refer to these rules when we write or type out words. Rather, our brains resort to their own mental orthographic images bank.

It’s a bank with photographs of every word you know. Consider these mental images as slides that come up in your brain and tell you things like,  “Hmm, ‘noticable’ doesn’t seem quite right, does it?” Because you’ve read and possibly written “noticeable” the right way many times, this image in your head will pop up and insist that this is not how it’s supposed to be written.

To ensure you get your MOIs right you need extended, focused, and repeated exposure to a word. That’s why flashcards are so popular and effective in teaching spelling. The good news is that you don’t really need printed flash cards. Many programs and online tools help you study words with virtual flash cards equally effectively.

Pick a Side

It’s important that you stick to one spelling of English. Are you using British, Australian or American English? Make up your mind and stick to that spelling practice to ensure your writing is uniform and misspelling-free.

Know Your Weak Spots

Even the best spellers — and we’re guessing Spelling Bee champions, too — can misspell words with the ever-confusing suffixes often referred to in pairs: -able and -ible-, -ent and -ant, -ance and -ence, and –tial and –cial.

So, if you’re stumbling upon the spelling of “beneficial,” “dependable,” and “elegance,” double check you’ve spelled them correctly.

Over time you will be able to get it right, as long as you go about practicing in the right way. In the meantime you can brush up your spelling rules to give you a hint. For instance, verbs that end in –y such as apply and ally will form a noun with an –ance suffix; appliance and alliance in this case.

All-around Practice

A common mistake people make when learning to spell is that they only focus on the orthography of the word, leaving out pronunciation and actual word production. To learn a word’s spelling is not enough. You need to write it out, and you need to hear it and say it too. This exposure to all linguistic aspects of a word means you can recall its spelling even without having to write it out or spell it out loud later.

Be a Smarter Speller

Smart studying means that you learn with less effort and in less time. Instead of indiscriminately practicing your spelling with a jumble of unrelated words, try learning spelling in groups. For instance, learn all words that end in –ious together. Such a list would include words such as “deleterious,” “ingenious,” “captious,” and “voracious.”

Test Yourself Often

To make the most headway in your spelling study, you need to monitor your progress, so it’s crucial that you test your spelling skills often. You can do so with online quizzes or with a friend or parent. By testing your spelling with another person, be it a tutor or a friend, it ensures you get feedback instantly. This will help you to recognize your weaknesses so that you can then focus on them in your next spelling practice.

Over to you. What’s your go-to strategy for learning to spell?

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7 Strategic Ways to Improve Spelling

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle … Your Pet?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle … Your Pet?

Would This Strategy Make You A Better Speller?

English spelling gives nightmares to more than a few people. Whether English is your native language or not, the spelling of many English words is bound to give you a hard time.

As a language, English is fairly easy when it comes to grammar. However, learning to spell English words is an achievement equal to conquering a country. Or countries, as the case may be; given that English has borrowed from several languages and nationalities, including Greek, Latin, Arabic, Hindi, and French, studying English almost gives you a world tour. With all of these imported words, English is notorious for its erratic and unpredictable orthography exceptions, so it’s truly impressive if you’re currently a good English speller.

The Strategy of Simplification

On the other hand, why not just make life simple and make English spelling less erratic and more predictable? Some people go as far as to propose an English language cleansing, where we stick to only words with unequivocal meaning and abandon confusing synonyms. Ken Hooton, a columnist for the Sierra Vista Herald, makes a case for doing just that. He uses one example, the words “inflammable” and “flammable,” to illustrate how the language is unnecessarily confusion; these words are synonyms, though they appear to mean the opposite.

Hooton argues for a simpler English language and spelling. But his voice is not the only one raised on this issue. On the other side of the Atlantic, a similar argument is being made.

Is the English Language in Need of a Purge?

Stephen Linstead of the British English Spelling Society says there’s definitely room for improvement.

He explains that, given the fact that 35% of the most common English words have either irregular or unpredictable spelling, it comes as no surprise that young students and ESL learners of English resort to memorization for learning spelling.

As Linstead reveals there’s a plan in the words to create the International English Spelling Congress over the next few years. This is an organization comprised of English speakers from around the globe who will get together to discuss how English spelling can be simplified.

Linstead is part of an organization that aims to raise awareness on how difficult English spelling currently is, and how hard it is to master. The English Spelling Society also plans to take tangible steps in making it easier for future generations to learn to spell with less frustration and more joy.

While the education system of Britain has come up with new spelling strategies such as synthetic phonics to teach spelling to children, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The needs of many primary school students are not being met, as they struggle with the challenge of learning orthography.

An English student can take up to two more years to master spelling skills than children the same age in countries with languages where the sight/sound correspondence is more straightforward.

With these changes being discussed around the world, being a good English speller might get easier for successive generations. What’s your opinion of this strategy – and would it help you be a better speller?

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Would This Strategy Make You A Better Speller?

Like, What Is The Deal With The Word Like?

Don’t you ever wonder why people insert the word like so much into their everyday speech? What’s the deal with this word that seems to dominate every conversation? A linguist, Alexandra D’ Arcy, has attempted to pick apart the different meanings of like in a paper.

To introduce a measurement or quantity by approximation

“I’ve been living in Beijing for like 4 years now.”

This is a widely known usage of the word like. Its purpose here is to introduce a fact that you’re not 100% sure is accurate. You might have been living in Beijing for 3 and a half years, or even more than 4 years, for example. In any case, the approximation like makes sure no one accuses you of misinformation.

To indicate a quotation from someone else

“She was like, ‘I need a break from us.’”

This use of the word like is quotative. In this form, like is preceded by a form of the verb to be, and its purpose is to introduce something someone else has said. In this instance, instead of introducing someone’s words with the verb “said,” you use like instead.

In this instance, the word like is meant to both introduce someone’s words and to paint a livelier picture of the situation. In fact, in many instances of using like in a sentence, it’s almost always accompanied by a gesture, facial expression, or other body language cue.

You can easily imagine a 20-something woman saying with exasperation and a shrug (or with extreme disappointment and a frown), “He was like, ‘I don’t even care what you want!’” when quoting her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend.

To substitute for the word “well”

Another use of like is as a discourse marker, a form of verbal punctuation that creates a specific starting or stopping point. People often use the word well to introduce a new thought or begin a conversation. In this case, like easily substitutes for well. Consider the following two sentences:

“Well, I’ve been meaning to tell you. I want to become an actor. I’ve already signed up for a class.”

“Like, I’ve been meaning to tell you. I want to become an actor. I’ve already signed up for a class.”

Like is a non-intimidating, friendly way to introduce a new conversational topic or carry on with a previous thought from where you left off.

Whether you like like or are one of those people who are utterly annoyed by its (over)use, like is a convenient word that appears to be gaining in popularity and usage, especially among young teenage girls. However, if you want to cure yourself of this un-“like”-able habit, you might be interested in trying some of the techniques described in this article or this one.

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Like, What Is The Deal With The Word Like?

Better Watch Out For These Mistakes When Creating Blogs & Articles

Do you type “buy” when you meant to type “bye”? That’s awkward, to say the least.

It’s a shame to damage an otherwise excellent blog post with mistakes in grammar and language use. The good thing is that when you write blog posts you probably tend to make the same mistakes over and over again, so it’s easy to identify your weak spots and learn to correct mistakes before you make them.

Below are some common language use mistakes we all make. How many are you guilty of?

A or An?

It’s 1st grade stuff, really: you use “a” with words starting with a consonant and “an” with words starting with a vowel. Right? If only things were that straightforward!

“A” is also used with words starting with a consonant if, when spelled out, the first letter would begin with a vowel.

Think how “n” and “m” are pronounced, and how you would write them out. They start with a vowel: you would write [en] and [em].

This means that you say, “He is an NBA player” and not “He is a NBA player”.

Another example of this is the phrase, “There’s a U-turn coming up in 100 metres.” Here, the letter “u” is pronounced “You.” Even though the letter is a vowel, you need to use “an” because it is spelled out as if it begins with a consonant [yoo].

Homophone Wars

The carnage is dreadful. No matter how careful you are you will at some point end up confusing words like “jean” and “gene” or typing “passed” when you meant to type “past.”

Yes, the English language is full of mine fields, but familiarizing yourself with common homophone blunders you ensure you will avoid them in your writing (plus you’ll get to scold others who are still making them).

Common homophone mix-ups include these word pairs:

patience – patients

vale – veil

hear – here

your – you’re

night – knight

dear – deer

one – won

there – their – they’re

none – nun

The Fewer or Less predicament

This is not really a predicament if you know a simple rule. “Fewer” is used with countable nouns, as in “fewer lessons” and “fewer flowers.” For uncountable nouns use “less” – say “less money” or “less time.”

Note however that you will use “less” and not “fewer” when reporting on a measurement, as the Oxford Dictionary says. Example: “They got divorced in less than 3 years after getting married.”

Dangling modifiers

Think of a dangling modifier as a word without a root. It’s a word, phrase, or clause in a sentence, where it is not clear which other phrase or word in a sentence it is connected to. The noun can either be very far from the modifier or not present in the sentence at all. Consider the following sentence:

Reading your complaint letter, my dog will not go outdoors unattended again.

This sentence omits  the noun altogether. For clarity, it should read:

Reading your complain letter, I will not let my dog outdoors unattended again.

This restores peace in your neighborhood and reassures your neighbor your dog doesn’t have a reading superpower. But if you learn to avoid these common mistakes, you’ll definitely be a super writer!

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Better Watch Out For These Mistakes When Creating Blogs & Articles

Words That Create Employee Engagement

Could it be that word choice – the language employers and managers use in their daily office communication – can affect employee engagement in the workplace? It’s true. In fact, word choice can actually make or break employee engagement, and the effects can be more widespread than many employers would believe.

Making sure that employees are engaged boosts their productivity, increases their output quality, and improves the overall corporate culture, turning it into one that’s bubbly, robust, and innovation-focused.

With the right word choices, a company can increase employee engagement and reap all the benefits it brings to the table.

While HR initiatives are generally both carefully structured and implemented, they often fail to fine tune the language that supervisors and managers use with their employees. This results in poor end results, even with the most promising of beginnings – something that often has HR experts scratching their heads.

Business Management Daily has come up with a list of 10 words and phrases that can boost employee engagement. These words nurture a relationship of trust, and provide tangible respect for while boosting the corporate identity of each employee through the simple action of shifting or strengthening an employee’s state of mind. These phrases urge employees to engage in a qualitative, substantial manner with their company and all it represents.

“Thank you”

This expression of gratitude and acknowledgment can be a tremendous help to an employee because it makes them reconsider their approach to their office, their co-workers, and their managers.

With praise, employees feel the satisfaction that comes from knowing their hard work is rewarded and acknowledged and this gives them further momentum to benefit the company by being more productive, more active, and ultimately more hard-working and diligent, with the goal of getting that praise again in the future.

“What do you need from me?”

Asking for help might not be part of your company’s culture. Maybe there’s an unconscious attitude that employees are expected to already know – or figure out themselves – how to complete new tasks or confront new challenges.

This question helps employees open up and ask for help. It gives them the reassurance of knowing that support is there if they need it.

Most importantly, when an employee knows that they have someone they can go to for advice and support, it makes them more confident in their daily activities. It can even encourage them to take up more initiatives on their own.

“What would you like to do here?”

The answer to this phrase gives managers a great deal of information on many different levels. It helps them identify the aspirations, limitations, and fears of their employees, and even allows them to discover an individual employee’s personal passions. In turn, this will help managers to find ways to leverage the employee’s talents and skills in different departments or job posts if that would be of the most benefit to the company.

According to Business Management Daily, other phrases HR managers could use to open up the communication between themselves and the staff include, “How is your family?” and “I need your help.” The phrase “This task is in your hands – I’m stepping back” is one of the most powerful, as it shows the employee that they have the capabilities to succeed, and that the company trusts them to work independently.

Will you be using any of these phrases with your employees? If you don’t find ways to use them, remember that simple words that can also drive up employee engagement include the magic word, “Please,” and phrase that shows that you respect the employee and their workload: “Can you spare a few minutes of your time?”

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Words That Create Employee Engagement

Spelling: A Matter of Memorisation, or Not?

Learning to spell is an ongoing process. It takes years to master all of the intricacies of written language, and what seems to be substantial progress might be followed by an unexplained relapse in spelling mastery later.

It takes patience, practice, and a lot of energy to help children achieve spelling efficiency. Spelling is part memorization, and part critical thinking.

A speller will generally start by learn spelling rules and their exceptions, and will apply these when trying to figure out the spelling of unknown words. For a language that’s as challenging to master as English is, it’s no surprise that spelling rules are complicated by homophones, words from foreign languages, and tricky spelling patterns not found anywhere else that create constant exceptions to those rules. How can a student correctly guess the spelling of “quays” when it can rhyme with both “keys” and “bays” — depending on the pronunciation habits of the region where that student lives?

Spelling is part phonology, part morphology

Spelling calls for a great deal of memorization, because a student needs to be able to accurately recall the orthography of tricky words. But it also calls for critical thinking, and the implementation of the student’s store of existing linguistic and morphological knowledge.

It’s not sufficient to memorize a word’s spelling in blocks; in other words, to memorize “receive” as a whole-word image in your head. While it might be effective, it doesn’t really mean you know how to spell the word, or words with the same letter pattern.

Invented spelling

Invented or inventive spelling is how people try to figure out a word’s spelling by activating their existing spelling knowledge. For example, a learner will rely on pronunciation and spelling knowledge they already possess to decode the spelling of a word like “rough.”

At their first attempt they might get “ruff” instead of “rough,” or come up with “road” when they really meant to spell “rowed.” As a learning strategy, invented learning is useful. It helps the learner draw on their spelling knowledge to figure out the spelling of new words. But it’s not a stand-alone strategy either. Morphology needs to be learned as well, because this is what allows the learner to understand basic spelling rules and principles that govern English spelling.

Memorize or not?

Memorizing spelling patterns helps us get the correct spelling of words, but when homophones come into play, things get really messy. Spelling knowledge cannot be applied in a vacuum.

A word’s spelling is always informed by context, intended meaning, and the speaker’s linguistic competency. This means that even if a word has an homophone, it should be possible to figure out the correct spelling.

Therefore, if a person wants to spell “write” but spells it as “right” instead, that doesn’t mean they fail to memorize the right spelling of “write.” It simply means that they momentarily forgot to activate their critical thinking and linguistic knowledge. By paying attention, they’ll immediately see that even though the two words are homophones, the correct way to complete the sentence, “He _______ a Victorian novel” is with “writes” and not “rights.”

To conclude, memorization alone is not a sure-fire way to master spelling.

While spelling mastery means being able to memorize spelling rules and principles, ultimately what makes someone a great speller is their ability to use linguistic knowledge (both phonological and morphological) to expand their spelling mastery to deal with new words. A student still has to learn how sounds correspond to letters and what exceptions exists. They also need to know basic morphological rules, such as how certain nouns get an –e suffix when turned into a verb, and what changes that causes in pronunciation. For example:

“take a bath” vs. “to bathe”

“hold your breath” vs. “to breathe”

Spelling is a human invention. We took phonetic representation of words and implemented rules about how this would translate into written language. It is also continuously evolving as language and society changes. That’s one reason why spelling cannot be naturally or instinctively acquired like speech is. It has to be explicitly taught. Spelling is best learned through a combination of learning strategies that combine memorization, phonological skills, and morphological awareness. This way, spelling knowledge is comprehensive, critical, and correct.

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Spelling: A Matter of Memorisation, or Not?