10 Tips to Improve Your Spelling

Hispanic boy doing homework
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Nothing makes your paper appear shabby or unpolished like the appearance of several misspelled words in your text. While we can depend on technology to let us know when we've made errors in spelling, it's important to know that technology has flaws.

You should always use a spell-checker when you can, but sometimes spell-checkers are not available or they're not reliable. That is why we can't become totally spell-checker dependent!

Read over this list of techniques and try to make them a part of your routine. 

1. Make yourself a list of problem words. If there are certain words you have already identified that you misspell frequently, make yourself a spelling list. Practice writing these words ten times each, just like you did in elementary school. Use flashcards to practice a little every night and eliminate words when you feel you've conquered them.

Soon you'll find that you have mastered these problem words!

2. Keep a "problem word" file in your computer. Each time you run a spell-checker and find a word that you've misspelled, copy and paste the word into your file. Later you can add it to your list (above).

3. Each time you practice a word, spell it out loud. Later, you will recall how the word sounded as you spelled it right. You'll be surprised how well this words!

4. Review the rules for prefixes and suffixes. You'll avoid many mistakes once you understand the difference between "inter" and "intra," for example.

5. Study common root words of words with Greek and Latin origins. This is a trick used by many spelling bee participants.

6. Memorize clumps of words that belong to special groups. For example, you will find that the group of words that contain "ough" (rhyming with tough) is finite. Once you make a comprehensive list, you are ready to memorize.

By observing words that do and don't belong together, you will reduce uncertainty about many similar words that don't make the list. More lists of special groups would include:

  • aire words like questionnaire and millionaire
  • mn words like hymn and column
  • ps words like psychology and pseudonym
  • ible words like edible and audible

Be sure to revisit this list frequently.

7. Read a lot! Many words become familiar to us because we see them often. The more you read, the more words you will memorize - even though you won't realize it.

8. Read with a pencil. You can mark your books with light pencil marks to indicate words you'd like to practice. Just remember to go back and erase! If you happen to use an eReader, be sure to highlight and bookmark words you'd like to practice.

9. Practice with a few online spelling quizzes. This is a good way to find frequently-misspelled or commonly-confused words.

10. Visualize yourself carrying out an activity to match a problem word. For example, if you have trouble remembering how to spell edible, conjure up and image of the word in your head, then picture yourself nibbling on the word. (Silly activities are often the most effective.)

Any effort you make to improve your reading skills will make a surprising effect.

You'll find that spelling becomes much easier with practice. Don't let yourself become overwhelmed or frustrated. Persistence is key!