Many children naturally pick up spelling skills, usually as a result of a strong visual memory. For others however, different language processing abilities makes spelling very difficult. Children who are dyslexic, and others for whom spelling does not come naturally, benefit from specific and explicit teaching of the rules that govern the English language. Below are some commonly used spelling rules which can help emerging spellers.
K or CK?
At the end of a word, how do you know when to use a ‘k or ‘ck’? Easy! If the vowel sound is short, as in pack, pick, luck, lock, or peck, use ‘ck’. If it is long, use a ‘k’ followed by a silent ‘e’ (fluke, make, pike, smoke). Long ‘e’ sounds use two vowels and a ‘k’ (peek, sneak, meek, week).
If a word ends in an f, s, z, or l, and is preceded by a short vowel sound, double the last letter! (pill, off, mass, fuzz)
Where does the apostrophe go? Contractions are when two words are shortened into one by joining them, as in do not don’t. When joining the words, the first vowel of the second word is simply replaced by an apostrophe (she is–> she’s; have not –> haven’t). There are a few exceptions that should also be taught, such as will not –> won’t.
Words that end in Y: when changing a noun that ends in Y to a plural, change the ‘y’ to an ‘i’ and add ‘es’. (puppy –>puppies, bunny–>bunnies)
The “J” sound:
At the end of a word, always use ‘ge’ or ‘dge’ to spell the ‘j’ sound. If the preceding vowel sound is short, and is immediately followed by the ‘j’, use ‘dge’ (hedge, fudge). For all others, use ‘ge’ (hinge, rage, refuge, sponge).
C or K at the beginning:
If the next sound is an ‘e’ or an ‘i’ sound, use a K. For all others, use a C. (keep, kite, crack, cap, cute)
Exceptions are: Karate, Kate/Katie, karaoke, kangaroo
With more learned spelling rules, writing becomes a less daunting task. Knowing that English is a language with regularity can help the motivation and confidence of reluctant or struggling spellers.
For more information about language instruction and academic support, contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space (416) 925-1225 or visit http://www.ruthrumack.com.