Part 5: Tricky words

Techniques for teaching spelling - say it as it sounds

This spelling method usually starts about a year after the children first start learning to read. For some tricky words, only one aspect is irregular, e.g. in Monday, the ‘o’ is irregular because it is pronounced as a short ‘u’. Also some letter sounds in words are ‘swallowed’ and the pronunciation becomes an indistinct ‘schwa’ type of sound, e.g. ‘lemon’ and ‘button’ (the ‘o’ is swallowed’).

By emphasising the real letter sounds when saying these words, the children are reminded of the correct spelling.

The teacher starts a list of these words. They are practised at odd moments. The teacher calls out each word and the children respond in the ‘funny’ way. As the list develops, the children find some of their own to add to it. For example, the silent ‘b’ in ‘lamb’ is spoken ‘lam-b’, ‘is – land’ for ‘island’, ‘w-rong’ for ‘wrong’, etc.

Many adults use this technique, and it is a useful one to pass on to the children.