spelling letters spell word vocabulary English etymology ESL 
English spelling is a nightmare.

Some words, like light, might, and right, show their Germanic origins. Some words, like euphemism, photograph and psychology, show their Greek roots. Others like luminescent and primary, show their Latin background. English spelling is so strange because many languages contributed to its vocabulary.

Here is a fun video to watch about the history of English: 

What can a student do?

There are many on-line resources for spelling practice.

For example –

Spelling Help: Tips and Techniques to Help You Spell Any Word

Also, any bookstore in an English speaking country will have shelves dedicated to spelling workbooks because spelling is hard for adults and children alike.

What else can you do?

First, start grouping new words by spelling patterns.

For example, when you learn the word neat, you notice that the vowel sound is made up of two letters together e + a. Create a page with a list of words that do the same:

  • beat
  • seat
  • treat
  • mean
  • bean
  • dream
  • steam

Other words have a silent e on the end. Again, make a list. Keep adding to it as you find more words that fit the pattern. (vowel + consonant + silent e)

  • love
  • above
  • glove
  • like
  • bike
  • take
  • bake
Second, make yourself flash cards for words that don’t fit a pattern. These words are often called “sight words.”

You can find handy lists on line on websites like this one: Dolch Sight Words Listed by Category

Third, READ, READ, READ every day. It helps to see the words in context. 

More than anything else, know that learning to spell well won’t happen by magic. English-speaking children spend hours every week learning to spell throughout elementary school. Even though you are learning English as an adult, you will still have to devote the same amount of time to learning spelling patterns.