Tips for Learning New Vocabulary Words

I Before E and Other Spelling Rules


Teaching students how to spell can be a very difficult task because there are so many irregular words making it incredibly tricky. Nevertheless, there are words that actually follow simple spelling rules. In light of this, learning these rules early on in life will help students remember how to spell many difficult words when sounding them out just does not do the trick.

I Before E
One of the most well known spelling rules for the English language is the “I before “e” rule. Teachers will always tell their students “I before e, except after c”. This means that in words like “achieve”, “believe” and “grieve”, the letter “i” comes before the letter “e”. However, when the combination follows the letter “c” like in the word “ceiling”, the “e” comes before the letter “i”. However, it is important, to teach your students that there are always exceptions to such rules, such as the word “their”.

Following a Q
The letter “q” is rare in the English language and not found in many words. When said aloud, the letter often sounds like a “k” followed by a “w”. With this in mind, when teaching students to spell words with the letter “q”, it is important to relay that in English, the letter “q” is always followed by the letter “u”. As they learn that the two letters come as a packaged deal, they will be less likely to commit spelling errors when writing words such as “quiz” and “aquarium”.

Drop the E and add ING
Spelling rules such as “drop the “e” and add “ing”” and “I before e except after c” always seem to catch on better when they rhyme. The “ing” rule reminds students that when they take a verb that normally ends in a silent “e”, such as “bake”, and add an “ing” at the end, they must first drop the “e”, so that the word becomes “baking”. When teaching this rule, make sure the students understand that a word like “make” has a silent “e”, as opposed to a word like “see” that does not have a silent “e”.

X and S
After learning how to spell a countless number of words, students are ready to learn plural forms. Sometimes this is as easy as placing an “s” at the end of the word. However, there are some situations where it is much more complicated. For words that end in the letter “X”, for example, there must be an “e” placed before the “s”. Take for example the word “fox”. The plural of “fox” is not “foxs”, but rather “foxes”. You will never find a word in English that has an “x” followed directly by an “s”.

Irregular Phonetics
When it comes down to it, English can be a strange language. There are many rules, along with an endless number of irregular spellings and as a result, sounding out a word does not always work.  For example, it may be tempting to spell “telephone” with an “f” instead of a “ph”. While learning to spell, you will learn that the “ph” combination sounds like an “f” and the “gn” combination can sound like an “n”. Unfortunately, these are rules that you will simply have to memorize.

Learning to spell using the English language can be tricky to say the least. There are irregular spellings and strange inconsistent rules. Luckily, there are some spelling rules that make learning a difficult language that much easier.