Back to school - spelling rescue strategies

I want to wish teachers who return to school around now all the best with their new classes. Hopefully you're refreshed after the summer holidays and raring to go! It's the time when I always make resolutions (more logical for teachers than January). Do you?

So, is this the year that you're determined to help out those learners who are really struggling with English spelling? If so, what can you do to really help them make progress?

Here are 6 ideas:
  1. Emphasise the positive! Avoid reinforcing the idea that English spelling is chaotic and unlearnable. Instead show links. Ask questions like:
    • Can you think of other words with a similar spelling? Are they similar in meaning?
    • Why do you think it's spelled like this?
  2. Make spelling as visual as you can. Help learners visualise words and their shapes. Good spellers can 'see' words in their heads. Weak spellers need help with this.
  3. Remember testing isn't the same as teaching -  consider testing less and teaching, reading and writing more.
  4. Teach or remind learners about strategies for learning difficult spellings. Use the Look Say Cover Write and Check chart at
  5. Correct spelling mistakes in such a way that students can learn from your corrections. Copy the correct letters they have written, with dashes for the letters that are wrong.
  6. Make spelling practice fun and mentally engaging. Help break down fear of words that may have built up from previous negative experiences.
To help you, and give you loads more ideas, I've put a 20% discount on my book - Teaching Spelling to English Language Learners - for a few weeks only. To get it at this price (only £14.80 + postage) you need to go to The book is also available from at or .

Have a happy and rewarding year!