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How Can I Get Better at Spelling?

Updated: May 14

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Being able to spell correctly opens the door to effective communication.

Correct spelling is important if you are:

  • writing a story

  • composing an email

  • scribbling a note to someone

  • sending a text message

When you learn to spell English words correctly, it can make a big difference in how well you get your message across.

So, if you're looking to get better at spelling, you've come to the right place!

The question you might be asking is: "How can I get better at spelling?"

There are two processes you need to understand to achieve better spelling.

Two processes

The first process is learning to spell using some useful strategies.

And in this article, I'll outline those strategies.

The second is learning how to remember how to spell those difficult words. And by practicing you'll never, ever forget how to spell them.

There are other articles focused on getting better at spelling. You may have read them. So, the strategies I am about to explain will be familiar to you.

But, few if any of those articles explain ways to help you remember correctly spelled words. I will point out to you that I offer such a way - a method that's unique. I am confident that nobody else in the world teaches this Method. More on my Method later.

Tips to Get Better at Spelling

Here, then, are the simple yet effective (and recognised) tips to help you how to learn to spell better in English.

1 Read, Read, Read

Regular reading is one of the best ways to improve your spelling.

Reading exposes you to a wide range of words and their correct spellings.

So try and read:

  • books

  • magazines

  • articles

  • news stories

Look at how words are spelled and have a go at trying to remember how they are spelled.

This suggestion is offered in many articles. But no process is explained that helps you try to remember the spelling of words.

Below, I will outline an easy method for learning how to remember the spelling of words.

2 Keep a Vocabulary Journal / Notebook

Write down, in a journal or notebook set aside for spelling, the new words you come across.

Write the word, its meaning, and its correct spelling. You could add its counterpart in your first language. To reinforce your memory of these words review your journal on a regular basis.

3 Practice with Word Games

Turn spelling practice into an enjoyable game! There are plenty of word games and puzzles available that can help you improve your spelling. And have a good time playing them.

Board games

Good games to play are Scrabble or Boggle. They also test your vocabulary. Write down new words that other players use. But, use your dictionary to check their, and your, spelling.

Other activities include:


Choose from easy to difficult crosswords. Look for them in printed newspapers or online.

Word Find

The aim of the game is to find shorter words found in a longer word. I post this type of game occasionally on my Facebook page for Apex English Tutoring.

Spelling Bees

Someone says a list of words, one by one, and you have to write down the words you hear.


I used to play Hangman in my English classes in China.

A word, usually a long one, is represented by dashes. Students, one at a time, call out a letter. If the letter is in the word, it replaces a dash (or dashes). Vowels are good to guess first, then consonants.

If a wrong letter is guessed, a figure is drawn, an arm or a leg at a time. If the word is not guessed in time, the noose is drawn to hang the figure.

Online Quizzes and Apps

There are online quizzes and apps too which can be both educational and fun to do.

The New York Times 'Wordle' is one such daily online quiz. To solve the puzzle, you are given five blanks, each blank representing a letter.

It's best to try and guess vowels first. Then, by elimination, you have a better chance of finding the remaining letters. You have to find the word in 6 or fewer attempts.

4 Use Mnemonics

Mnemonics are useful ways that help you remember information.

Create mnemonic devices for tricky or difficult words. Do this by making up a funny phrase or sentence that includes the letters of the word in the correct order.

It's better to use mnemonics with words you use regularly. Don't waste time trying to remember the spelling of obscure words you will never ever use.


To remember the spelling of 'necessary,' you might use the phrase "One collar and two sleeves are necessary." (One C and two S's are in the word.)

Here's another one:

Missus M, Missus I. Missus S-S-I. Missus S-S-I. Missus P-P-I. It helps you remember the spelling of the Mississippi River.

Here's a common word that is often misspelt: 'separate' (not 'seperate').

All you have to do is remember that there's 'a rat' in 'separate' (sep-A-RAT-e).

How about this one?

To remember how to spell 'parallel' remember that there are 2 straight lines in the middle not at the end (the 2 L's).

Another tip is to remember this: "I before E, except after C."

Look at the words: receive, deceive, conceive, receipt. In each one, the E comes before I, because they follow a C in the word.

There are exceptions: Take the word 'seize' for example. EI follows an S.

But in words such as piece, reprieve, thief, friend, niece, shield, copier, varied, movie, tie, lie, die, series, techie, cookie, there are no cases where a C demands an EI after it.

So, they are all spelt with IE after letters such as P, H, R, N, S, V. M, T, and L. No C's.

5 The Problem of Silent Letters

Many words have silent letters that are not pronounced.


  • hymn (him) but not hymnal, solemn, but not solemnity, damn but not damnation (the N is silent).

  • debt (the B is silent)

  • khaki, honour, rhombus, rho, rhino (the H is silent)

  • dumb, womb, tomb, comb (the B is silent)

  • thought, thorough, through, sought, fight, night (the G is silent) - but not rough or tough.

6 Endings (suffixes)

Changing tenses or changing verbs to adverbs or adjectives often means dropping or changing letters.

hate -> hating

love -> loving

move -> moving

move -> movable

inflate -> inflatable

love -> lovable

agile -> agility

capable -> capability

7 Recognise that US and UK Spellings are Often Different

Many UK, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian words are spelled differently from US words.

One of the differences is in the use of 'or' in US words for 'our' in British words.



  • honour / honor

  • valour / valor

  • splendour / splendor

There are other differences:

  • practice (noun) and practise (verb) V practice (noun and verb)

  • sterilise / sterilize (s and Z)

  • analyse /analyze

  • catalogue / catalog

  • dialogue / dialog

  • analogue / analog

  • metre / meter

  • calibre / caliber

  • theatre / theater

  • fibre / fiber

  • centre / center

  • annexe / annex

  • doughnut / donut

  • distil/distill

  • instil/instill

  • enrol/enroll

  • enthralment/enthrallment

  • enthral/enthrall

The silent E is produced when forming some adjectives with a suffix. It is often used in British English in such words as 'likeable', 'unshakeable', and 'ageing'.

In US English, it is generally omitted: 'likable', 'unshakable', and 'aging'.

These alternative spellings are not 'wrong', just different.

Take care when writing for particular readers. To avoid people querying your spelling, use the appropriate spelling for the particular audience.

If you're not from either the US or from countries that use British English, decide on one form and be consistent.

8 Break Words into Syllables

What if you have long or unfamiliar words? They are difficult to spell. Try breaking them down into smaller, more manageable parts or syllables.

Doing this can make it easier to spell. For example, instead of writing "impossible", write it as "im-poss-ible".

9 Practice Writing

Writing regularly is a good habit to adopt.

The more you write, the more you'll reinforce your skills in spelling.

You can write about anything that might interest you:

  • stories

  • journal entries

  • letters, notes, or emails to friends or family.

But, make sure that the words you are writing are correctly spelled. This point often is missing from articles that offer this strategy.

Indeed, the act of writing is an essential part of my Method to get better at spelling difficult words.

10 Check Your Writing for Spelling Mistakes

The rise of the internet and online platforms has enabled people to write stuff. Everyone is a writer or publisher. Others judge you on your ability to write, to communicate effectively with others.

If your writing is full of spelling mistakes, it's not a good look. Your close friends might not care. But if an employer sees your post, it can damage your reputation and credibility. It may even reduce your employability.

So, always carefully proofread your writing before posting it or submitting to:

  • your teacher

  • a potential employer (as a cover letter or CV, responses to Selection Criteria)

  • Your responses to posts written by people you want to impress.

Use Spellcheck

Are you a content writer for websites or advertising? Make sure there are no typos (typographical errors) in your written pieces. Spellcheck helps most of the time but the tool is not infallible; it makes mistakes.

For example:

You are writing about 'bears'. and you write "Bares are big, dangerous animals."

Spellcheck will ignore the spelling because 'bares' is a correctly spelled word.

As I said, Spellcheck detects misspelled words. Look at it this way. It's telling you that you need to learn how to spell those words. It could be better at pointing out your spelling mistakes than your friends are!

Chatting or texting with your friends are informal occasions. Correct spelling helps clear communication. So, aim for clear and correct spelling every time.

Predictive text produces strange spellings. They can be so easily missed (just ask me; I've done it when I haven't been attentive) so be very careful.

'Checking before sending' takes moments but those moments are crucial to avoid miscommunication.

Proofread before Printing

Another problem area is printing. Imagine printing a few thousand fliers or pamphlets. And they have spelling mistakes: they are expensive mistakes!

So, look closely for spelling errors and immediately correct them. Or ask 'another pair of eyes'. Ask another person to proofread your work. Especially if it needs to be perfect before printing or publishing.

Reading your work aloud can also help you catch any mistakes you might have missed.

11 Ask for Help

If you're unsure about the spelling of a word, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Ask a teacher, a friend, or look it up in a dictionary. In fact, a dictionary should be right next to you as you write. Even I have a dictionary close at hand because sometimes I will forget how a word is spelled.

Go here to read an article I've written about choosing a good dictionary.

Asking for help shows that you're willing to learn and improve.

12 Spelling the Way You Speak Can be a Problem for Spelling

Recently, I participated in an online Facebook/meta private group. It was for people around the world to come together and chat online.

Often quizzes are posted. One such quiz was asking people to name pairs of words that are spelled differently but sound the same.

Many people wrote: 'sea' and 'see', 'choose' and 'chews', 'patience' and 'patients' - all correct. Others wrote 'but' and 'bat', 'hut' and 'hat', 'pear' and 'peer' - not correct.

Being right depends on where you come from and what accent you have.

As a native English speaker, I called out the incorrect pairs of words. I was basing my pronunciation on what is called Received Pronunciation (RP). It's the name given to the standard accent of English used by the British Broadcasting Corporation. And it's spoken by people from the south of England.

People from north England (from Manchester or Liverpool) do not use RP. Instead, they pronounce words such as 'but' or 'some' as 'boot' and 'soom' where the 'oo' is pronounced as the 'oo' in 'shook' or 'wood'.

As well, words such as 'bat' or 'sat' (and other rhyming words such as 'rat', 'cat', 'pat' and 'mat' etc.) are pronounced as 'bart' and 'sart'.

So, 'but' and 'bat' are pronounced (almost) the same.

'Mother' or 'Mum' are pronounced 'moother' and 'moom' (again to rhyme with 'wood' - which is not pronounced 'wooed').

Yet, the 'oo' in 'wood' and 'look' and 'book' is pronounced to rhyme with 'wooed'.

Interestingly, it seems people from West African countries have a northern English accent. That may surprise you.

The way they pronounce 'bat' is pronounced as a long A: 'baat' for 'bat',to rhyme with 'hut' or even 'heart'.

But 'hurt' is pronounced 'heart' or even 'hart'.

So, why this long explanation of different accents?

It's because, in answering the quiz, they are right with their wrong (to native speakers) examples.

The problem is the spelling. They spell the way in which they say the words.

But if they want to speak RP, they need to 'unlearn' the way they pronounce certain words. And it's really only a small number of mainly vowel sounds they need to correct.

Is accent and incorrect pronunciation an issue? Is it a problem?

If you're a fluent native English speaker, few problems arise once you hear the problematic words in the context of a sentence.

I understand that: "Arm going to heet you with my bart" means "I'm going to hit you with my bat." No problem.

But turn it around.

Some Americans will say this: "We have time to keel, so let's go climb that heel."

People with ESL often are unfamiliar with American pronunciation. So, they won't understand that what they were saying was "We have time to kill, so let's go climb that hill."

Imagine, then having to listen then write the sentence in correct English. Will they spell 'keel' as 'kill' and 'heel' as 'hill'?

Perhaps they will spell them correctly as they also possibly pronounce those words the same way.

How it Has Helped Me Too

For me, this has been great research. I have learned how people's accents shape their English and their spelling. I've seen the wonderful examples they provided.

I can now add many problem words to My 'simply better' Pronunciation Method to make it even better.

young bearded man speaking into microphone, sits beside other people on a panel
Pronunciation helps spelling

Learning to pronounce words correctly will help with correct spelling. So 'bat' won't rhyme with 'but', and 'choose' will rhyme with 'chews'.

No Other Option

I'll say it straight. Some words you just have to learn to spell correctly.

Many words have entered the English language over centuries. Some have disappeared while others have cemented themselves into everyday language.

As a result, the ways in which words are spelt don't follow any rules of standard English.

For example, from Italian we get 'pizza' and 'capuccino'.

From Spanish we get 'sombrero' and 'siesta'.

From Japanese we get 'origami' and 'Suzuki'.

And from French we have words such as 'avoirdupois', 'camouflage', 'reconnoitre', and 'menu'.

13 The 3 P's: Practice, Patience, and Persistence

Improving your spelling skills takes some time and effort. So be patient with yourself.

Practice regularly, and don't become discouraged by mistakes. As you know, every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow.

So, follow these tips. Make your practice regular and consistent.

You'll soon become more confident in your ability to spell any word correctly. Moreover, you'll learn how to learn English spelling easily.

So, open a book, get a word game going, and start spelling your way to success!

So, here are the final words on the topic to help you get better spelling.

Another option: Get My 'simply better' Spelling Method

With My 'simply better' Spelling Method, I teach you an easy way to practice spelling English words.

By all means, follow these tips here. But they are not designed to help you actually remember how to spell difficult or tricky words.

Scrabble tiles spell out Start Today on dark blue background, Below is white text on pink backing that reads My simply better Spelling Method

My Method does! And you can learn it quickly with the help of pictures to explain the simple and easily learned process.

Use my Method to help you remember the correct spelling of any word. It's not limited to English. You can use it if you're learning Spanish, Italian, French, or German. In fact, any language that uses the English alphabet.


In this article, I have outlined a number of strategies as the first process. Many articles about spelling outline them.

I have also explained that there is a second process. It's the main point of difference from those other articles.

It's learning HOW TO REMEMBER those words you are trying to spell correctly every time.

I told you about My 'simply better' Spelling Method. It's an easy process that helps you remember how to spell those words. Let me also say that it is unique and never discussed in other articles on spelling.

I hope this article has helped you in your search for ways to get better at spelling.

Read more ....

© Apex English Tutoring - April 2024

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About Me

Hello and welcome!

My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.

As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.

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