spelling rules course app

spellingrulesworkbookKeep these- for the links on website









how to spell logo

Top 8 Spelling Strategies for ESL and native speakers

A few days ago I sent you a “long” email on the Top 8 Spelling Strategies
to help you spell and recall spellings.
Can you remember what they are?

I’ve made a new video on them to help you remember and learn them.


Click here to go to the video and lesson

Thanks for reading this, and your support

Kind regards


spelling confused with spelling

English spelling is puzzling for native speakers, and challenging for ESL students too! Especially if your language is written phonetically – that is all the letters relate to a sound – you probably find English spelling crazy and irritating.

But the good news is English spelling isn’t all irregular and chaotic – it’s just complex and there are patterns, rules, regularities and reasons why English spelling is the way it is. Yes, some words are tricky to spell so good spellers use a combination of strategies to help spell and recall words:

1. Strategy 1 is see a word within a word

believe is a tricky spelling with the ie or ei pattern. Can you see the word in believe that means to not tell the truth?

The word within believe is lie, so use this in a sentence to remember it  “Never believe a lie

Fotolia_2579196_XS believe

young has the tricky ‘ou‘ pattern. Can you see a word in young?

There’s ‘you’ in young. Make a sentence to remember it “You are so young”.

ESL spelling strategies.

You can relate memory tricks/ and words within words to your language. Use anything to help you remember tricky words. Use pictures, photos, drawings. Write sentences. 

2. Strategy 2 is use sayings to help with tricky letters.  

Native speakers find necessary hard to remember how many c’s and s’s there are, so we have a saying: “It’s necessary to cut some services.” Which helps us remember there is 1 x c and 2 x s.  We can also use i”It’s necessary to have 1 collar and 2 sleeves.”
spelling necessary

3. Strategy 3 is noticing how words are built with root words, prefixes and suffixes.

This is a very important strategy, especially if your language doesn’t build words this way. uncomfortable = not comfortable = un + comfort + able,  irregularly = ir + regular + ly, unhappily = not happy = un + happy(using our knowlege of spelling rules we change the ‘y’ to ‘i’) + ly prefixes and suffixes

4. Strategy 4 is know common spelling rules and exceptions

Knowing spelling rules is great to help you figure out why spelling is the way it is. For example, we add ‘es’ to words ending in x, ch, sh, s, z to make plurals and third person verbs: box – boxes, mess – messes, he teaches. We have the ‘y’ to ‘i’ rule when adding some suffixes: happy – happiness, happily; crazy – crazily, craziness.  We drop the ‘e’ with -ing – write – writing, have – having, believe – believing.

5. Strategy 5 see letter patterns.

Letter patterns are a reliable way to learn learn spellings.

We can use rhyming a word with another word that has the same letter pattern can help you to spell the word. so if you know one of the spelling with the pattern it can help you with spelling another

6. Strategy 6 is know word families that are linked by meaning and pattern is very interesting and can help spelling
-ject- (from Latin- throw)
reject (throw away!), rejection,
 projection, (to throw light on something), projectile, dejection, objection, adjective (to throw light on nouns!), injection

terr- (from Latin terra for earth, land, ground)

terrain, territory, 
subterranean, Mediterranean extraterrestrial, terrier (a dog that digs in the earth!)

-rupt (from Latin for broken)
 disruption, eruption, bankrupt, corrupt, abrupt…

7. Strategy 7 is use syllable breakdown – we can break words into little spoken chunks with a vowel sound Wed/nes/day, un/com/for/table, ex/tra/va/gant or break them into words – un/comfort/able, extra/va/gant

8. Strategy 8 knowing the history of the word, why its spelt the way it is – knowing why we have silent letters most used to be pronounced but have fallen silent but left in the spelling because pronunciation has always changed but spelling remains fixed, and that’s why we have so many “strange” spellings.

What are the silent letters in knee, knock, sword, answer?

Silent ‘k’ in knee, knock. Silent ‘w’ in answer and sword. The silent letters all used to be pronounced, so most spelling shows the history of how words used to be said/pronounced centuries ago. They are the ghosts of past pronunciations, showing us a once spoken letter but now they’re there to show us the history and origins of words.

If you’re interested in learning all about ESL spellings strategies then click here

ESL Spelling Strategies Course

Thanks for reading this, and your support

Kind regards


P.S. My new ESL Spelling Strategies Course is available on curious.com/howtospell – click here My Spelling Rules Course. and the Beginner’s Guide to Punctuation is also available as part of the membership.

Free ebook version of my Spelling Rules workbook

Just to let you know that my Spelling Rules Workbook ebook is in the Resources section. You can also click this link and it’ll download to your computer so you can save it on your computer and look at it and do the exercises when you want.

If you haven’t been on the course for a while no probs it’s there for you anytime.

There’s also a new notebook feature that allows you to monitor your progress and write private notes.

log in

Keep passionate about your learning


cial and -tial rules

special, social, official, confidential, initial, essential…

Why do we have the -cial and -tial endings when they both sound the same?

questions about spelling

And why is controversial controversial?

Check out my new lesson and find out about this interesting rule.

All this and more in my Spelling Rules Workbook (ebook version available too) 


Pick up a copy of my Spelling Rules Workbook before the price goes up on 1st March – click here 

how to spell logo

A Man with blue jeans working on a tablet pc with he's hand

Remember there are loads of free lessons on www.howtospell.co.uk

There are also exercises for you to do, and there are spelling tests too.

Keep working at your spelling
because practice makes perfect.

Thanks for all your support and commitment.




accept and except

I have a new lesson on these two tricky words – accept and except. Click here to see the video and do a spelling test.

In the lesson we’ll look at what accept and except mean and the memory tricks to remember which to use. There’s also a video and spelling test.

Keep up the good work