Some language learners often say that English is one of the most difficult languages to master because of the spelling. Indeed, it is tricky to remember all those words that spell differently than they sound because the language is full of exceptions and contradictions.
For example, the word “knight” sounds as it should begin with a “n,” and the world “psychology” does not sound like it should have a “p” in the beginning. Well, the rules are the rules, can’t break them. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of other words where it is simply difficult to apply logic when unsure how to spell them.
However, by using the following learning tips, you can make a fast progress!
Learn the Rules
It’s still the best approach to learn English spellings and methods of recognizing the correct ones. For example, concentrate on the most common endings such as “-tion,” “-een,” and “ough,” words that start with silent G or K, and homophones (these are words that sound the same but have different spellings).
Find the list of words that begin with silent K and G (knowledge, knee, know, knife, knot, campaign, foreigner, resign, and so on) and learn it by heart. This will help you to memorize them.
Learn exceptions to the rules
Unfortunately, there are some exceptions to the rules, and you should also learn them to be as good at spelling as you can. There is no simple way to memorize them because it’s rather a matter of being aware of them.
For example, you may have heard about “I before E except after C” rule during your studies. There is an exception to it as well (“height” and “weird”). Learn these exceptions to improve your English.
Watch movies or TV with English subtitles
This is a fast method to get better at spelling because of the number of words that you consume per hour. For example, by watching a movie with English subtitles, you read all of them and memorize a lot (especially if it is a movie you like).
Another advantage is that you can both hear and read words, so it will be easier for you to identify the words that “do not sound right.”
Sign up for Word of the Day emails
A number of language learning sites offer this great service. Every day, an email with a word is sent to your inbox. In the email, you can find all essential information about spelling, pronunciation, uses in sentences, and more.
You can also listen how a native speaker says this word by clicking on an audio symbol in the email.
Don’t rely just on spellchecker
Spellcheckers have gotten really good but they still cannot provide the same level of correction effectiveness. For example, if you are composing an essay paper and wrote “four you” instead of “for you,” it is highly likely that your checker will not pick up the error.
The reason for this is simple: “four” is a word spelled correctly, so it does not have to be changed. Little does the check know that the context is completely different. As the result, the professor or anyone who will read the essay will notice it.
It’s a hundred times better to proofread a text for spelling yourself instead of using a machine, so make sure you find some time to do it.
Test your knowledge with online spelling quizzes
A quick Internet search reveals that many sites have online spelling tests for you to try. They feature both intermediate and advanced spelling exercises that you could try.
For example, HowToSpell.co.uk has been named by BBC Learning English as the number one site for spelling exercises. Indeed, you’ll find common misspelled words quizzes, most common errors, top ten misspelled words quizzes, silent letter crosswords, and lessons that will serve as a spelling guide for you.
Learn plural versions
Not all plural versions in English end with ‘S’ (it would be so much simpler if they were!). To memorize the spelling of complex words, it is often recommended to learn plural versions and compare them with singular versions.
For example, one could think that the plural version of word “knife” is “knifes.” Well, just adding S to the end does not work here because the correct answer is “knives.” There are many other examples that will make reconsider the whole “adding S to the end” strategy and learn specific words.
Here are some of them: the plural version of “sheep” is not “sheeps” but “sheep,” and “cherry” is not “cherrys” but “cherries.” There are many other examples, so you better learn them!