“I’m not a good speller” is a sentence many adults utter as they seek help when writing business letters or reports for work. The inability to spell does not appear to be an indication of intelligence, either. Rather, some people’s brains aren't wired for words and spelling. Several spell-checking programs are available for those who have trouble spelling. However, spell check does not help when a correctly spelled word is used in the wrong place. Therefore, it is important for adults to know how to spell.
Teach spelling one word at a time. In this process, you look at a correct version of the word. Study it closely. Try to create a picture of the word in your mind. Say it out loud. Then cover up the word and write it from memory. Check your version of the word against the correct version. If it is right, move on to the next word.
Use your senses. Sight is our strongest sense. We trust our eyes more than we trust our ears. Still, hearing the word also will make an impression in our minds. Lastly, the act of writing the word gives the mind one more tactile way to remember the way the word is spelled.
Make it a game. Like children, adults enjoy games, too. On index cards, write down the words you are studying. Perhaps include clues to the correct spelling. For instance, believe can be remembered by knowing that there is a “lie” in "believe." Word lists of commonly misspelled words, as well as commonly misused words, are available online at sites such as Literacy.Kent.edu.
Don’t give up. The words you have the toughest time spelling correctly are probably the words you have misspelled for a long time. It takes time for the mind to work its way around to the correct spelling of these words.
- Young learners pick up spelling from reading and writing. This does not work as efficiently for adults.
- Also, it is important to make a decision on where to start first. Tackling the entire English language at once would be overwhelming.
- Many “spelling” systems are available through the Internet. It is wise to check out the ones that are free of cost before committing a lot of money for a system that might not work for you.
Annette Jones has been a journalist for 30 years, both in radio news and in print. She has worked in Boston and Washington, D.C., and has a bachelor's degree in journalism and society from the University of Mary Washington.