Look, Say, Cover, Write and Check (LSCWC)

Sometimes you just have to learn to spell words. But how? One of the most tried and tested methods for English-speaking children is look, say, cover, write and check ... and it works just as well for adults.

LOOK at the word you want to learn, and I mean really look. Which bits of the spelling are easy and which are not so obvious? Mark the 'hard spots', that is the difficult part of the word, using a different colour pen. Is the word similar in spelling to another word that has a related meaning? Can you break it into parts?

Have a really good look and think about the spelling until you feel you can spell it.

SAY the word, while looking at it. Is the spelling a reflection of the sound? If not what is different?

COVER the word with your hand, a piece of paper, your coffee cup, the cat or whatever. Close your eyes and try to 'see' the word in your head.


CHECK your spelling by uncovering the word and comparing it with your spelling. Check it letter by letter. If it's wrong, start again; if it's right, have a sip of coffee and tell the cat how clever you are.

Even better, do it online - then you can't cheat! Here are some great websites to help you.

My favourite is Ambleside: http://www.amblesideprimary.com/ambleweb/lookcover/lookcover.html . It's so simple and you can put in your own words. For adults as well as children.

This one from the BBC is fun and full of surprises but you can't put in your own words unfortunately. http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/words/spelling/waystolearn/lookcover/game.shtml

There are more sites like this. Let me know if you want more or know of more yourself.


  1. Thank you very much for this. I can see it being really useful for some of my students.

  2. Great posting - will keep my students on over. Thanks a lot, Johanna


  3. Glad you like it, Clare. Feel free to link to it from your site http://www.english-at-home.com/ , which also looks very useful.

  4. I have just taken a look around your site after seeing it win the Golden Trousers award on the BELT network. Well done! This is a very interesting idea for a blog and I can see its use immediately. I will be telling my students about it!

  5. Thanks, Lindsay. Please do tell your students ... and other teachers. If there are any topics related to spelling they (or anyone else out there) want me to address I will try to do so.

  6. Hello Joanna!
    Congratulations on winning the BELTFree Most Unique ELT Blogging Concept for this post! I think this is a wonderful resource for ELLs and people in general.
    I have a question that relates to spelling. I was wondering what to tell students about the problem of some English words being spelled differently in American and British English. For example, color vs. colour. Most American English spell checks consider "colour" a misspelling.

  7. Thanks very much, Shelly. Glad you think it'll be useful. Yes, American and British spelling is an interesting area. Rather than reply here, I'll blog about it very soon. Come back and check!

    By the way, some great stuff on your blog too. Loved the post about wait-time.

  8. Thanks Karenne (somehow missed your comment before). You're always so supportive.

  9. Hi,

    Just wondering, would you perhaps, know the origins of the Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check strategy? I can't seem to find any useful information. I'm currently writing a thesis on teaching children spelling. Thanks! Emma

  10. No, Emma, I'm afraid I don't know who first coined the term as a strategy - though I guess it's based on common sense. You could try Margaret Peters' books (eg Spelling:Caught or Taught?) - maybe it was her, though it probably preceded her. Good luck. Let me know if you find out.


  11. Great website .... just wondering, how do you add in you own words to the Ambleside Primary LCWSC website? I can't work it out, other than emailing one of the teachers! Many thanks.

  12. Hi englishteachingresources!

    Glad you like the blog, thanks.

    On the Ambleside LSCWC site you just delete the words that are there and write in your own. Did you try that? It works for me.

    By the way, have you seen my LSCWC template at http://thespellingblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/look-say-cover-write-check-template.html ? I'm rather proud of it!


  13. Hi Johanna,
    Many thanks for your reply. Yep, that works! Thanks :-)
    Will now be able to use it with my students!
    Best wishes,

  14. Really i think it will very useful for students and teachers.