Master spellers have various tricks to learn the spelling of words. Simple mnemonics have included things like remembering the best use of “then vs than” and “there vs they’re.” The rhyme “I before E except after C, or in sounding like “ay” is in ‘neighbor’ or ‘weigh’ ” is ingrained in every student’s mind from a young age.
But these little mnemonic tricks won’t help you in every situation. There are exceptions to every rule and this is the problem most people have when it comes to spelling.
Whether you are a terrible speller and would like to become decent …or if you are already a good speller and would like to become the next Scripps Bee champ, here is a memory brain hack for remembering the order of all those vowels and consonants.
Only memorize what you need to know. Often people try to use a system to memorize every letter in a word. This method results in a high accuracy rate but it is a slow and tedious process. Instead, try focusing your attention on the trouble spots.
The majority of words in the English language are considered “mostly predictable” according to the American Federation of Teachers. 50% of English words have spelling that is predictable based on sound-letter correspondences and 34% of English words would only have one error if they were spelled on the basis of sound-symbol correspondences alone. That means that the spelling of 84% of words is mostly predictable (source.) Simply put, in most instances, sounding words out will carry you to your goal.
So 84% of words are predictable but what about the other 16%?
Luckily, spelling mistakes can be predictable as well. Many people have difficulty remembering when to use “-ei” vs “-ie” or which words end in “-ible” instead of “-able”
All you need to do is memorize the mistake and know how to correct it.
So no, you don’t need to remember every letter. You only need to remember the one or two letters you keep getting wrong!
Link your corrections. This is a brain hack for memorizing your mistakes. Linking is an important component of the Farrow Memory Method. It is a mnemonic technique that connects two pieces of information that would ordinarily not share any logical connection. It is usually done through visual association and that is what we will discuss in the examples below however you can also use other modalities like auditory association or kinesthetic association. Linking is a technique that corresponds with the multi-model approach to learning. This is the idea that memory is made stronger by taking in information through the senses.
Linking is all about making silly pictures and outrageous stories in your mind. Here are two examples of how I used linking to remember the correct spelling of two commonly misspelled words:
Acceptable – People often misspell it by using an “i” instead of an “a”
– usually spelled wrong as: acceptible
How to Link: Picture this word in your mind. When you say it to yourself, picture a store “accepting” payment in the form of Apples. Not cash or credit, but Apples. Make this a silly picture in your mind’s eye where you are throwing apples at a Walmart cashier, and you will not forget the spelling of this word.
Calendar – People often misspell it with an “e” instead of an “a”
– usually spelled wrong as: calender
How to Link: So just like with the 1st example, you need to remember to use the right letter. The same letter, “A” is used so use Apples again to remember the correct spelling. In your mind’s eye, picture yourself just throwing Apples at the calendar on the wall. This will help you remember that you use an “a” instead of an “e”.
This is also a great example of using a peg list for different letters or vowels, when used in different spelling words. Just think of the first word you that starts with the letter you should use, and link it to the word. You’re essentially making a link between the letter in your correction and the word itself.
Now every time you think of the difficult word, that letter comes to mind and you know to use it in the correct spelling.
Here is a list of the Top 100 Commonly Misspelled Words that you can use to practice making spelling links.
For more examples check out our program on: www.worldsgreatestmemory.com