Struggling with spelling can really discourage a young child from expressing his creativity through writing and hinder his language arts progress. This is partly why phonetic spelling -- spelling a word like it sounds -- is typically encouraged up until about 4th grade. Phonetic spelling helps students become more comfortable and confident with writing in general. Often by 4th grade, students are fluent readers and writers and as a result, teachers begin to ask students to spell correctly instead of phonetically. What if a student still incorrectly spells even the simplest words, can't break the habit of spelling phonetically, and seems destined for a life of spell check? There is hope! Try these strategies that many language arts and ESL (English as a Second Language) tutors and teachers believe can strengthen a struggling speller's skills.
Use frequently misspelled words list. Try incorporating these words into writing or even turn memorizing them into a contest. Lists can often be found online by grade level or can most likely be provided by the child's teacher upon request.
Read for pleasure. Reading, writing and spelling all go hand in hand. For many students, including those who learn best visually, reading can strengthen his overall language arts and spelling skills. This is especially true if the subject of the text is enjoyable to the reader and not viewed as "work." Who knew sports magazines could play a role in 4th grade spelling help?
Recognize and learn common spelling patterns. The English language can be confusing and sometimes correct spelling just doesn't look right. Imagine how hard organizing letters properly can be for ESL students. By learning common spelling patterns students take the guess work out of spelling. Some patterns to begin with are -igh, -imb, -ead, and -own.
Play language arts games. Sometimes when learning is in the form of a game, reluctant students are more excited about it since they don't realize learning is actually occurring. For many children, board games, computer games and the privilege to use other electronic devices can actually be viewed at as a treat!
If spelling just seems impossible, an ESL tutor could be the answer. One on one time with an ESL tutor might be the best way to get the student's language skills up to speed with the rest of his classmates