Spelling 2

Published on 18th February, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

Last week I gave two very simple suggestions to practise spelling, and using this to either reinforce vocabulary, or to use as warmers to lead in to a topic, for example. Here are three more suggestions, which you’ll find similarly focus students’ minds.

– Spell out words to students but backwards, e.g. L-A-V-I-T-S-E-F. With stronger students, as well as choosing more challenging, longer words, you could also add the element of speed. Once modelled, students can work in groups to do the same.

– Try writing the word on the board but using your finger. Write in large letters in lower case, one letter at a time, and put your arm down when you have finished. Repeat each word until a student manages to guess. Then he or she can do the next word, if appropriate.

– Ask students to write words on their partners’ backs, if this is appropriate for your context. Get two rows of students to stand parallel to the board: Row A and Row B. Each person from row A should have a partner that they are standing opposite, in row B. Both teams should face away from the board. Write a word up and ask ONLY students in row A to look. They then ‘write’ the word with their finger on their partner’s back. The first B student to shout out the correct word gets a point for themselves (and their partner). After doing 4-6 words, A and B students should change places.


  • Yes, I recognise that learning spelling in this way ,will give good results ,but my students are visually impaired …so is there an alternative way to do the same task ? can any one propose a suitable substitution….? thanks.

    Mohamed Chettir on 18 February, 2010
  • Hello Mohammed,

    Thanks for your interesting question. Three of the five ideas here can be done just orally with students – the speed spelling, spelling dictation and possibly even the backwards spelling (tho’ the latter would be more
    challenging) Writing on ss’ backs might work, but with you as scribe, writing on two students at a time, one from each team. This could only work if your group is relatively small. Hope this helps.

    yourself, on t


    Frances Watkins on 21 February, 2010
  • I find the priority of teaching Spelling in the ESL/EFL classes going steeply down the drain . Mainly bec.of the transfer effect of the SMS Culture growing strong with Kids from their early age. BFN = Goodbye for Now. CULO = see you later on. K= Okay . Besides models of Spelling vary from region,class and country.In India where I taught for many years,apportuniti gets a pass for “opportunity”

    Vridhachalempillay Subramaniam on 22 February, 2010