Spelling Strategies Video

Watch the spelling strategies video on using memory tricks.

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Spelling Strategy No: 1 – Mnemonics (memory tricks)


According to the Oxford Dictionary website there are plenty of words that follow spelling rules but “there are some tricky words you just have to learn like necessary and rhythm.” But they don’t tell you how you can learn these ‘tricky words’.

Using spelling strategies to remember words is one of the most important aspects of spelling. This blog is about using memory trick strategies.

To remember a spelling you have to keep writing the word, but if you have problems with it then use a memory trick to fix it in your brain.

Memory tricks could be words-within-words, rhymes, syllable breakdown, knowing the history of the word, any trick to help remember the spelling.

*Always use lowercase in handwriting so you can see the shape of the words but use capitals for proper nouns American, Britain etc. BLOCK CAPITALS are hard to read and to write. Use BLOCK on forms only.


Hard words to spell


Spelling Strategies

Let’s look at the problems most people have with these words, and then the strategies for remembering them. Other people’s memory tricks are useful but if you invent your own it means the process of coming up with one will help fix it in your brain.

People usually know the beginning and endings of words, they understand the patterns  –ation, -ary, -ness but it’s the individual letters within the word that usually cause problems.


necessary What a nightmare – is there one c and one s or two Cs and two Ss or two Cs and one s?

To remember we have a memory trick –

It’s necessary to have one collar and two sleeves – one c and two s




accommodation   this word is spelt wrong in so many signs and notices. Is there one c or one m etc?

Memory trick – the accommodation has two cots and two mattresses

– two Cs and two Ms.  Remember the O as well – accommodation



piece or peace?

Same sound, different meaning and spelling (homophones) are troublesome. The computer will say yes it’s the correct spelling for either one but is the meaning right?

We can use the word within a word memory trick.    A piece of pie.



business another corker and one I get confused about with the s and u and i. I use a strange memory trick of my own, I use a bus at a bus stopi   It makes sense to me so whatever works for you. Some of my students have come up with their own with the busi (busy in business) etc.


assistant  – sales assistant, shop assistant, admin assistant the word is used so often. But is there one s at the beginning etc? My memory trick is  –

the ass of the assistant  is  … or the assistant is an ass . The ass of an ant …and so on.  


secretary  – use a word within a word memory trick – a secretary will keep a secret.


February – the difference between how we say words and the spelling is obvious in days and months.

Wednesday /wens day/,

Tuesday /choos day/

February /Feb ree/.

You could sound out the syllables – Feb  ru   a  ry .

Or a memory trick is –  it’s brr in February

Learn the letter pattern –uary   for February and January


believe – use the word within a word memory trick to remember that it’s -ie- not -ei-

Never believe a lie. And remember the spelling rule i before e (ie) except after c (ei) (receive)



Wednesday – the big problem is with the silent d in there. We say /wens day/ but to spell it we need the d in there.

We could break it down into syllables – Wed / nes / day. Say it slow and exaggerated. Wed    nes    day.  Breaking words down into manageable syllables  is good for big words.  The bits you can’t get right then use a memory trick.


Forty (40) – another nightmare. We have four, fourteen, then forty without the u.

A memory trick is Four, Fourteen but U can’t be forty!



Write or right? Another homophone – same sound, different spelling and meaning.

Right and left, right and correct.  You write words.



Stationery or stationary?

Stationery has envelopes.  Stationary = stop at the station