• Good spellers tend to use their knowledge of patterns in spelling; poor spellers produce simple letter-by-letter translations.
  • Approximately 95% of the most common phonograms (word families) in English are always pronounced the same way, so vowel patterns and clusters are fairly consistent.  Some researchers have found that students learn to spell best with word families because the human brain remembers and makes connections with patterns.
  • Unfortunately, most spelling books try to show students all the different words produced by the same sound, rather than teaching one visual cluster at a time, to mastery. This often leads to confusion and poor spelling, the exact opposite of what is intended.
  • English text changes about late third grade when a large number of Latin and Greek based words are introduced. Students in grades 4-6 need to be taught morphemic (meaning) and structural (syllables) analysis in the same systematic way as initial phonics and word family instruction are taught in grades K-3.
  • Reading Spotlight’s Reading Tutor and Vowel Tutor practice pages reinforce the consistency of English spelling patterns for both reading and spelling. Several levels can be found in the Reading Spotlight Store.
  • Our Learn to Read Bingo Games, Reading Tutor Bingo Games, and Word Searches. reinforce the consisetency of English patterns.The sequence of the enjoyable practice pages and games follows fairly closely with the usual progression of spelling books through the grades—consonants, consonant blends, short vowels, consonant digraphs, long vowels, advanced vowels, homonyms, syllables, affixes, morphemes.
  • Many common spelling errors include many of the words in our Sight Word Kit A  Sight Word Kit B.
  • Homophones are actually the major source of spelling errors in students and in adults! Our Homophone Crossword Puzzles help to reinforce both English grammar and spelling rules.

These strategies might be useful in helping a poor speller:


  1. Provide help in how to look for patterns in the words
  2. Illustrate how to divide the words for easier spelling
  3. Show how to look for problem parts of words
  4. Supply memory tricks for difficult words
  5. Lay out meaning helpers
  6. Show how to sort, compare, and contrast
  7. Give special emphasis to difficult and/or frequently misspelled words.
  8. Teaching this format has been fairly effective for Reading Spotlight for many years:



Some interesting research conclusions include these points:

  • The learner correcting his or her own (practice) spelling test is the best way for students to improve spelling.
  • Vowel errors are, by far, the most common student errors.
  • Homonyms are also common spelling errors in students and adults.
  • Difficult words are better learned when they are given special emphasis several different times.
  • Several short sessions are more effective than one long session for studying.

See our free tip: High Frequency Sight Words for a more complete explanation of this method.


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