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The “Pronounce for Spelling” Technique

A great technique for preventing spelling errors is called “Pronounce for Spelling.”

When you pronounce for spelling, you exaggerate the pronunciation of a word to make it easier to spell. For example, in casual speech we often pronounce the word different as difrent, leaving out the second syllable. When we pronounce for spelling, we carefully enunciate each syllable (dif-fer-ent), making it much easier to spell. Watch this video for a demonstration.

Let’s dive deeper. Let’s say your child writes a sentence like this:

a sentence with misspelled words

When viewed on paper, the sentence obviously contains several misspelled words. And yet when you read the sentence aloud, exactly as written, you realize your child has spelled the words exactly the way she pronounces them.

Pronouncing Words Incorrectly Makes Spelling More Difficult

If your child mispronounces a word, it can make it difficult for her to correctly spell the word. On the other hand, if she learns to pronounce a word clearly and correctly, she has a much greater chance of being able to spell it correctly, too. Many words are commonly mispronounced and misspelled, including probably (probly), secretary (secertary), because (becuz), and library (libary).

Here are three things that cause pronunciation pitfalls.

  1. Unaccented Syllables

    Some words are not pronounced clearly in everyday speech. For example, most Americans pronounce the word button as butn. The vowel sound in the unaccented syllable gets lost in the normal rhythm of speech, something that is particularly noticeable in words like different (difrent), separate (seprit), and jewelry (jewlry).

header for common word with unaccented syllables
How It’s Spelled How It’s Often Pronounced
different dif-rent
separate sep-rit
jewelry jewl-ry
chocolate choc-lit
camera cam-ra
interest in-trest
several sev-ral
  1. Regional Accents

    The variance of regional accents can also make certain words more challenging to spell. For instance, these word pairs are pronounced alike in some regions:

    than/then     we’re/were       cot/caught       don/dawn       collar/caller      wok/walk
    feel/fill        stock/stalk      sense/since    been/bean     trail/trial      marry/merry

    The “pin-pen merger” is a prime example of regional pronunciation that causes different words to sound the same. In many areas of the southern United States, the words pin and pen are pronounced identically. This can cause confusion for children who are learning to spell; the words represent two completely different vowel sounds, but they are not pronounced to reflect that. Other similar word pairs include him-hem and kin-Ken. For specific help with these words, be sure to check out 6 Tips to Help Distinguish Between Short I and Short E.

  1. Silent Letters

    Many words in the English language are derived from Latin or Greek root words or have been borrowed from other languages. This has resulted in many English words with letters that we no longer pronounce.

    Hover over or click the words below to see the unpronounced letters.

header for 10 words with silent letters
honest Wednesday
muscle knuckle
handkerchief lamb
scissors design
friend thistle

So between unaccented syllables, regional accents, and silent letters, what’s a spelling teacher to do?

download our pronounce for spelling quick guide

“Pronounce for Spelling” Technique to the Rescue!

As our emu friend demonstrated in the video, there are two simple steps to the Pronounce for Spelling technique.

  1. Exaggerate the pronunciation of the word.
  2. Spell each sound you hear.

Exaggerating the pronunciation of hard-to-spell words allows you to hear each sound clearly, making it much easier to spell the words.

ostrich spelling "camera" with the pronounce for spelling technique

If your student isn’t aware of the correct pronunciation, model it for him. For example, if he regularly pronounces camera as camra, carefully pronounce the word for him: cam-er-a. When he can hear each syllable, he’ll be less likely to gloss over the unaccented syllables.

Notice that the first step in this technique is to exaggerate the pronunciation of the word. We’re not advocating that your child go around saying camera with ultraprecision—just during spelling lessons.

Now there will be times that “pronounce for spelling” won’t work. Take the word could, for example, where the silent L can’t be pronounced. In these cases, we throw the word in jail. Curious what that means? Read this post to find out exactly how we throw words in jail and to get your own jail for spelling words!

What about Little Kids?

It can be endearing when children mispronounce words—aminals for animals or pasghetti for spaghetti. Their early attempts can make us smile.

At this stage, it isn’t necessary to interrupt a child to correct his pronunciation. It’s more important to keep a positive environment for speaking and communicating.

The best method for helping a child’s pronunciation is through purposeful modeling. If your child says, “I’d like some more pasgetti,” you could respond, “More spaghetti, coming up!” If your child talks about an ambliance whizzing past your car, you could say, “The ambulance must be headed to the hospital.” These are gentle, almost invisible, corrections.

But young children aren’t the only ones who pronounce words incorrectly.

Older Kids Often Pronounce These Words Wrong

Check out this list of common words that are easier to spell when they are pronounced correctly. Click the audio icons below to hear the correct pronunciation of each word. (Note: if a word has more than one accepted pronunciation, the most common pronunciation is given.)

header graphic for 25 Words Mispronounced by older kids list
“perscription” prescription
“goverment” government
“artic” arctic
“athelete” athlete
“excape” escape
“expresso” espresso
“canidate” candidate
“pacific” specific
“triathalon” triathlon
“bob wire” barbed wire
“crect” correct
“probly” or “prolly” probably
“close” clothes
“dialate” dilate
“excetera” et cetera
“Febry” February
“fedral” federal
“foilage” or “foe-lage” foliage
“heighth” height
“jewlery” jewelry
“histry” history
“mannaise” mayonnaise
“pronounciation” pronunciation
“realator” realtor
“supposably” supposedly

And then there is the issue of relaxed pronunciation, where we blend two or more words together in casual speech.

header for examples of relaxed pronunciation
Blended phrase Interpretation
acoupla (as in, I’d love to have acoupla goats.) a couple of
algo (as in, Algo if you go.) I’ll go
a lotta (as in, I ate a lotta spaghetti.) a lot of
betcha (as in, I’ll betcha a dollar.) bet you
awayzaway (as in, Our vacation is awayzaway.) a ways away
c’mere (as in, Can you c’mere for a minute?) come here
‘cuz (as in, I dropped it ‘cuz it was hot.) because
d’wanna (as in, D’wanna go to the park?) do you want to
hafta (as in, I hafta go to the store.) have to
howzat (as in, Howzat book you’re reading?) how is that
kinda (as in, We stayed up kinda late.) kind of
omina (as in, Omina show you something.) I’m going to
sko (as in, Sko to the beach!) let’s go
toldja (as in, Toldja he wouldn’t like it!) told you
don’tcha (as in, Don’tcha want to come with me?) don’t you
whaddya (as in, Whaddya mean?) what do you
yoosta (as in, I yoosta be good at playing piano.) used to
spozed-ta (as in, You’re spozed-ta be there early.) supposed to

Here are technical words to describe how words can change in casual speech:

  • Haplology is the dropping of similar sounds or syllables (probably becomes prolly or probly; candidate becomes canidate)
  • Epenthesis is the addition of sounds to the middle of the word (hamster becomes hampster; else becomes elts; picnic becomes picanic; athlete becomes athelete.)
  • Syncope is the blending of words together (come here becomes c’mere)

Most of us do change words when we speak, but in spelling class it is helpful to slow down and pronounce the words clearly to reduce the chances of misspelling them.

Here’s the Bottom Line

Any time your student fergets how to spell a word, simply remind him not to forget to “pronounce for spelling.”

By taking the time to thoughtfully consider every part of the word, he will be able to clearly enunciate each syllable, thus increasing his chances of spelling the word correctly.

Is there a word that your child has trouble spelling because of a pronunciation problem? Let me know in the comments below.

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Leave a Comment

Sarah Dowell

says:

Thanks! This is so helpful! We love AAR and AAs and these extra tips and guides make them so easy to use.

LaKrecia R Roe

says:

I loved this, I could not help but catch myself chuckle at a couple of the examples. Living here in the south, my child and the adults could use this! Wonderful set!

Adriana Cid

says:

Thanks for this helpful post. It’s funny because as a child I figured out this technique on my own, and always wondered if it was a thing. Glad to see it is!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Awesome, Adriana! It’s interesting–some kids do figure it out on their own and others need to be walked through it–sometimes repeatedly–to really start using it regularly. Such a helpful skill though!

Megan

says:

I love this concept!

Danita

says:

This has helped my oldest a bunch! Thank you!

Meredith

says:

My 5.5 yo flew through Level 1 and now we are on Level 2. He’s having some issues with over-pronunciation. He then doesn’t recognize the word. What, if anything should I do about that?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Meredith,
Great question!

Help him by playing an oral game.

If he reads the word button with a short o sound in the second syllable, as in /bŭt-tŏn/, he may sound like a robot and may have a hard time recognizing the word. Since the vowel in the second syllable is muffled (is a schwa sound), he needs to be prepared to make slight adjustments in order to “say it like a word.”

Here’s how to lead your student through the “say it like a word” activity:

Choose a word that is in your child’s oral vocabulary, such as the word problem. Say the word to him as if you were a robot, without using the schwa sound: /prŏb—lĕm/. Then, your child will “say it like a word” by repeating the word in normal speech. Be as silly with your “robot talk” as you can to make it fun and then help him as much as he needs so that he can “translate” the word from robot talk to normal speech. Do this with at least a few words a day as a part of your reading time, and you can take turns being the robot as having to think about a normal word and turn it into robot talk will help as well.

Once he is proficient at repeating the words using the muffled schwa sound, you can remind him to use this activity as he reads to help decode unfamiliar words. Soon you’ll be able to remind him to “say it like a word” and he’ll correct himself.

Let me know how the activity goes and if it helps over the next few weeks.

Meredith

says:

Great idea! He will love talking like a robot! I can update when we’ve had some practice!!

Evangelia Velliou

says:

Very helpful

Beeee

says:

I LOVE this post – As we delve deeper into reading and now starting spelling, the sounding out of each syllable is critical. My kids think it’s hilarious when go heavy on the pronunciation, but it works – they can write and spell those words correctly ;)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It’s great that you can add humor to the pronounce for spelling technique! Anytime something is funny, it’s more enjoyable and easier to remember. Great work!

Holly B Anderson

says:

This was extremely helpful!

Amy

says:

Good tips! I love that your posts give educational tips for me as the parent teacher, and the pronunciation voice-overs are helpful for my child to hear. Thanks!

Carly

says:

My daughter is 7 years old and loves to write short books. We have started doing this and it helps her tremendously.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carly,
It’s important to encourage and help young writers as much as they need to keep writing! 😊

Bethani LaCoursiere

says:

Excellent!! Thank you! This is how I spell still! Lol!

Mary

says:

I never realized how much my child hears words incorrectly until they started spelling! 🤦‍♀️ The regional pronunciation of words also is challenging!

Amna

says:

Thanks alot

Julia

says:

How about “libary” instead of library

Sarah

says:

My son asked me how to spell “actually” the other day and got pretty close when I got him to pronounce the word correctly! We love both AAS and AAR.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love that this technique proved helpful for your son just recently! Thanks for sharing this, Sarah.

Jessica

says:

Love this! Thank you! My 5th grader struggles with spelling and I see how he is spelling each word how he hears the words instead of how they are pronounced! We are on AAS Level 3 and I am going to try this technique!!

Lisa

says:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article! We have just begun our homeschooling journey, and pronouncing for spelling is practical and common-sense approach. I especially liked the method described for silent letters, and the extra blog link included here.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
Welcome to homeschooling! Let me know if you need anything as you begin. 😊

Eliawnna

says:

This is great!

Judi Slaman

says:

wonderful ideas. I’ve always tried to exaggerate the pronunciation for spelling purposes when first learning the word and practicing, but for tests say it normally.

Jen Asay

says:

These are great tips as I enter the teaching my child to read phase of homeschool! I do this myself and aalways have, but didn’t realize it waw an actual technique.

Laurie

says:

Thank you so much for this

SKR

says:

This is so true!!! Love the info!!!

Lisa Dorsett

says:

Very important valuable information on this post! Thank you for sharing them!

Kelly

says:

This is great..

Lisa

says:

This is great thanks!

Valerie miller

says:

Thank you so much for this amazing post! So helpful for teaching my littles!

Sarah Lynne Dupree

says:

This is so helpful!

Elicia

says:

Happy to have read this. I wasn’t sure if it would be “cheating ” if I pronounced for spelling!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Elicia,
No, it’s not cheating! You do, of course, want to transition your student to pronouncing for spelling himself, but it begins with your pronouncing for spelling for him. Be sure to say the word both ways, so he learns to associate “dif-er-ent” with “difrent”, for example. After he has a good grasp on the word, let him know that you will only be saying it as you normally say it and he has to think how to pronounce it for spelling. It’s definitely not cheating.

Elicia

says:

Thank you, that is a great tip!

gina

says:

This information is valuable and I realize that I wasn’t taught this information in school. Thank you for posting this critical message. I really enjoy all this site has to offer!!!

Manda

says:

I’ve always tried to clearly enunciate with my son for words he has struggled to pronounce. But exaggerating the pronunciation has definitely helped as he’s learning to spell and sound out words. Great tip!

Britney Tifft

says:

This is probably the first site Ive seen even touching on this subject. Its very neglected. Thank you, this was a wonderful thing too stumble upon!

Genie Coss

says:

This information caused me to realize that I need to be more intentional when I speak.

Lynne Ayling

says:

Great tips! Thank you!

Courtney Key

says:

Great ideas and techniques to try!

Can’t wait to try AAR!!

Lisa

says:

This is so helpful. Thank you!!

Sharon

says:

Great article and a good reminder on pronunciation. I try to be very careful when doing spelling with my son. Even he remarks when I am saying a word for spelling it doesn’t sound like we “usually” say it.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sharon,
Praise your son for noticing the difference between pronouncing the word for spelling and the way you usually say it! It shows he is really listening and thinking about words and that is what great spellers do. 😊

Catolyn

says:

Love this article. Very helpful. Thanks.

Nicole

says:

Wow, great article! I tried to correct my speech/pronunciation over 20 years ago, my English husband says I speak better English than him (I’m Australian); but it wasn’t until reading this post that I realised that our pronunciation (I’ve noticed I still speak with a bit of slang, and my husband speaks with a lot of slang, and his dialect struggles to/fails to recognise certain letters) could have something to do with why my 10 year old homeschooler still has difficulty with spelling. This will be a great lesson to all of us.

Maria

says:

Great Tips!

Michelle

says:

Maybe not so much as a spelling issue, but in Nebraska I have noticed many people say “pry” instead of probably. They truly don’t hear it themselves. (I am not native to Nebraska, so it stands out to me more)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
Regional pronunciation and accent is a fascinating topic. While some people are very aware of their accent and its effects on spelling (those in the South of the US are typically very aware), others are surprised to learn how they pronounce words is not common throughout North America.

I haven’t heard probably pronounced “pry”, but then again I haven’t been to Nebraska. I have heard wash pronounced “warsh”, however, mostly from those that grew up in rural Idaho. 🙂

Nikki

says:

Great view on pronunciation. Will give it a try with my 5 yo.

kelly thompson

says:

this is great- unfortunately even as a parent I find myself saying some of these!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kelly,
Most of us will pronounce at least some of these words with dropped syllables, added letters, or other changes. It is a part of normal speech and in casual conversation it would sound weird to pronounce them “correctly”. However, learning to pronounce these words for spelling can help make spelling them a lot easier.

Andrea G

says:

This looks like a lot of great info! Excited to try this!

Linda Pepperman

says:

Have been using AAR all summer with several students – on to AAS – looking forward to applying these techniques.

Great thoughts! I can see where this would definitely benefit the child!

Dandi D

says:

This will be so good to review with my son!

Jaci Cathcart

says:

Wow! These are awesome tips! I love all these resources All About Learning provides. These blog posts are always so helpful and interesting. Thanks!

Stacy Meehan-Westervelt

says:

Thanks for the tips!

Stacy Meehan-Westervelt

says:

Great tips!

Natalie

says:

Thanks for ‘spelling’ that all out! From the title I thought this post would be pretty straight forward, but I actually learned a lot (like how many relaxed pronunciation words I blend together)! I hope this will help my daughter who often “free-gets” how to spell things!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Natalie,
I’m glad we could “spell” out some of the complexities of pronunciation for you. 😊

Gina

says:

Thank you for this!

Jenn A

says:

This is sooo helpful, especially for my child with hearing issues.

Jessica Rowley

says:

Great tips! Thanks!

Michele

says:

Such a great program! We can’t say enough great things about it!!!! My 7yo is finally loving spelling and reading! Thank you!

auschick

says:

It’s been interesting reading through some of these both here and in our lessons. I have an Australian accent so that has created another level of interestingness with spelling/reading!

Jillanne Dizon

says:

Good tips, we are making our way through AAR 1 and hoping to start AAS 1 once we finish.

Renae B

says:

This same tip in AAS was very helpful to me when puzzling through why spelling some words were not making sense to my son. I shared this tip with another homeschool family who was then not using AAS. This article fleshed out this tip. Thank you.

Julie

says:

Great stuff for kids to learn!

This is super helpful, I love the audio clips especially! Thanks for always offering these add-on resources to help use AAS and AAR to its fullest advantage.

Stephanie

says:

Thank you for these great tips.

Tamara

says:

I help out with my Goddaughter. ..this is great info, thank you!

Alta R Waldner

says:

Great tips!!

Carol

says:

This was worth learning and a GOOD LESSON. Thank you.

Alison

says:

This spelling program as worked very well for my dyslexic son. We have learned so much!

Kim

says:

Thanks for the suggestions. There is so much to this. Your info is appreciated.

Royelle Mickelson

says:

During spelling checks in my special education classroom, I have begun to say the word normally. Then say I will pronounce for spelling using the tips you have given. Saying it twice. Having the student orally repeat both the word and the spelling pronunciation and only then allowing them to pick up their pencil. It has made a world of difference. I also encourage them to ask their teachers, “Can you pronounce that for spelling for me?” when they are uncertain. Both their confidence and their awareness of words has increased.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a great technique for helping your students, Royelle! Thank you for sharing this. I can see how that would help them to be more aware that how we normally say words may not always be the way we should say them for spelling.

It’s great work but I still find it very hard to spell probably. I think i maybe to old to learn i. M 53 years old

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gerry,
I find it helpful to think of the root word of probably. While it’s easy to mispronounce probably as probly, you can’t really do that with probable. Once I remember probable, probably is easy.

This thinking of another form of a word is very helpful for the correct spelling of lots of words. Take spectacle. That middle syllable just sounds like “tuh” and it hard to know what vowel to use. But when I think of another form of the word, spectate, the A becomes very clear.

That is extremely helpful. Thank you for your answer to Gerry. Fantastic tip.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, RaShell.

Amy Ezell

says:

These tips are great! When I gave a spelling test when teaching in the classroom, I was always careful to pronounce each syllable and to clearly enunciate each word. I knew then that my students had the best chance of applying what they knew of phonics to proper spelling.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Pronouncing words very clearly is important, but students need to learn to do this for themselves. They need to learn to think “difrent” and spell “different” on their own. To do this, they need to learn to pronounce for spelling themselves. With All About Spelling, we recommend not considering a word mastered until the teacher can say the word as they would in casual speech and the student knows to pronounce it for spelling and spells it correctly.

Tammy Rimack

says:

Thanks for all these great tips! Can’t wait to get started with the program! It comes highly recommended by a good friend

Heather

says:

I always find your tips to be so helpful! I grew up in northern midwest where words are pronounced very clearly (in my opinion). Now I live in the southern US so I find I have to be so careful with pronunciation of syllables. This post gives some great tips on how to do this. Thank you!

Jackie

says:

Just love the series. We finished all 4 AAR when she was 6 and now we are using those principles to work on spelling. Thank you.

Tammy

says:

Great tip, with thorough explanation!

Brandi Bentley

says:

I will definitely use these tips when teaching my kids spelling. I know my own speech is relaxed in casual situations but I try to pronounce words correctly when I am teaching phonics or we are learning about a spelling rule.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Keeping your own pronunciation in mind during spelling lessons is what good teachers do, Brandi! 😊

JulieJ

says:

This is one area we struggle with. Thanks for the tips!

Beth

says:

We just began All About Spelling. This post was helpful as we go forward.

Linda

says:

I like learning the technical words; I didn’t know those! Thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Linda,
I didn’t know them either, but they are fascinating. I find the concept of epenthesis especially interesting.

Linda

says:

I do, too. One of the local ones that bugs me is real-a-tor for realtor. :) May all our difficulties be as minor!

Angie Dunham

says:

Great tips! Thanks so much!

Bonnie Walker

says:

Thanks for the info. Reading up on dysgraphia all I can as my 12 yr old was just diagnosed.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Bonnie,
We have a blog post on Dysgraphia: How can I help my child? in case you haven’t seen it yet. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sara

says:

That is an excellent tip! Thank you!

Kristen

says:

Great! Thanks for the input!! 🙂

Julia Minges

says:

Love the ideas for gentle correction!

Anneta

says:

Thank you for this insight and helpful tip. I will definitely incorporate this in my teaching.

Esperanza Parks

says:

“Darth Vader” has become “Dark Vader” 🙂 makes sense though, he is a dark character

Andrea

says:

Our family has really enjoyed the tips and strategies introduced in the program. Our oldest has excelled this year.

Robert D Sierra

says:

What about apple or able?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Robert
Are you referring to the “ul” final syllable at the end of these words? “ap-pul” and “a-bul” This is the consonant-LE syllable (or “Pickle Syllable”) and is taught in depth in All About Reading and All About Spelling.

Is this what you were asking? Please let me know if you have other questions.

Sara

says:

Getting ready to pick back up with AAS after taking the summer off. The curriculum goes so smoothly and she continues to progress! I love the way it dovetails with AAR.

Christy

says:

I love everything about All About Reading and Spelling. I’m glad I listened to my friends who encouraged me to try it when my son was struggling to read. It used to be tears everyday. Your ideas are so refreshing and helps us to find what works for us. Thanks for continually sharing tips to teaching reading and spelling.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Christy. I’m glad that All About Reading and All About Spelling helped end the tears for you.

rachel

says:

Thank you so much for this post! It is exactly what we are needing right now. I went to bed praying about this and woke up praying about this.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
I’m so excited to hear that this blog post was an answer to prayer for you!

However, if you have any further questions or concerns, please let me know. I’d love to help.

Deanna

says:

Thank you for the help. We live in an area with a regional dialect, accent and older generations that speak in all these ways. Teaching spelling(and grammar) is really eye opening. You could share the chart for relaxed pronunciation with Jeff Foxworthy for some new material.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

That’s funny, Deanna!

Lilly

says:

Very helpful for my homeschool spelling class! Thank you!

Sherry

says:

I think most adults (including me!) mispronounce words! I think that we just get “kinda” lazy when we talk! But pronouncing for spelling has really helped my older daughter improve her spelling.

WOW. This was really eye-opening!

Amy

says:

Thank you!

Nicole

says:

Thank you so much, this is very helpful! Can’t wait to start using AAS!

Amy

says:

This is such a great curriculum for spelling!

AnnMarie T

says:

I really appreciate these tips that you have. They are super helpful even if we are not currently using the program. Thank you!

Annamarie

says:

Thank you so much. I can’t wait to put it up in my class. I am looking forward to receiving more of this.

Sherry

says:

My son is having a terrible time spelling. I’m certain his pronunciation plays a part of the issue.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sherry,
Are you using All About Spelling with your son? While pronunciation can play a role in spelling problems, so can other things. For example, we find that many students simply memorize easy words like “cat” and “kid” but have no idea why one uses a C and the other uses a K, or that the same rules that apply to these words also apply to higher level words such as “concentrate.” Other students switch letters or leave out letters entirely. This usually occurs because they don’t know how to hear each sound in the word. Level 1 of All About Spelling has specific techniques to solve these problems.

If you are using All About Spelling, what level are you using and what difficulties is your son having? I’d love to help you help your son have success with spelling.

Alice

says:

I think this will be very helpful. Thank you!

Kgomotsego Motlopi

says:

An interesting take on spelling.. will apply it with my kids.

Megan Stephens

says:

I hate to admit it, but… I consistently mispronounce “clothes”, “government”, and “ candidate”. Yikes!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Megan,
There is no problem mispronouncing these and other words in our normal, casual speech. In fact, if you pronounce them correctly in casual speech, it sounds kind of weird. “Who is your favorite can-di-date for Senate?” It sounds odd. We just need to be careful to pronounce these words precisely for spelling for ourselves and to help our students.

Sana

says:

As a kid, I used to pronounce beautiful as “be-ou-ti-ful” and thousand as “tho-us-and” when i was learning how to spell them. I guess its the same principle :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sana,
Yes! I still do “be-u-ti-ful” in my head sometimes. And the other day I found my daughter saying, “pe-o-ple” for people. 😉

Amber

says:

Awesome post! I will definitely be using this with my struggling speller!

Kelly Beggs

says:

Thanks for the tip. I will try it with my students this year.

Wendy

says:

This is very helpful information for teaching children. Thank you!

Jenn

says:

This is so helpful! Thank you!

Michelle

says:

I had a PE teacher in elementary school who often ended his instructions / sentences with, “simma sane.” It wasn’t until I was grown and reminiscing with someone that it flashed what he must have meant. “See what I’m saying?” he always asked us. I guess I didn’t :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, my, Michelle! “Simma sane” would probably leave me not seeing what he was saying either.

Mary

says:

It’s so helpful to be aware of my own speech! Here in the Texas Panhandle, my kids are picking up a different dialect than I used as a child. We all have an easier time communicating when we speak with precision!

Heather Aaron

says:

Great information not only for children, but some adults as well!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Heather,
Yes! I know I for one have always added that extra syllable in triathlon.

Lori

says:

Yes, I have used this technique without realizing it had a name. I love seeing a list of example words which I have not even thought to practice “pronouncing to spell.” I should have started AAS earlier with my youngest, but am hoping to see great strides this fall.

Ellen Schulkens

says:

As a terrible speller I can see how this played into my education. Thanks for the info so that I can be better aware for teaching my kids.

Jessie

says:

So many good tips! Thank you!

Robin walt

says:

Very helpful. Thank you

Rachael

says:

This article is so accurate. It’s very interesting to me how people from different regions speak.

Christin

says:

This is great info. Thanks.

Molly Patz

says:

This was really helpful to be more aware about the way I pronounce words. Thank you!

Sarah Hussung

says:

Great information.

Charity Cole

says:

This method of pronunciation to spell correctly is actually how I naturally do spelling. It’s nice to know I’m doing something right.

Maria Pate

says:

Great information and now I understand why my daughter reads great, but doesn’t spell that good. Thank you

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, Maria! Playing this game after enjoying some mash potatoes would make it even funnier!

Jessica Brooks

says:

Haha, yes, and we are from Kentucky…😆 Thanks for this very informative post!

Erin

says:

This is so helpful! Thanks!

Lindsey Gabrielson

says:

This was super helpful! My husband and I just had a conversation about fo’lage/fo-le’age this morning and had to look it up in the dictionary. And the sentence I just wrote reminds me that my daughter used to spell “this morning” as “the smorning.” Can you guess what “jressis” are? I never could have guessed how terrible my accent is.

Gale

says:

This is a really good lesson (even for adults!) I have been working with my grandson for seven years now and that is something that works very well for him. It really helps to remember to talk that way as well.

Gale

says:

Ha! Ha! I haven’t seen that one, but that’s how we pronounce it, too!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lindsey,
Is “jressis” dresses? Hearing “dr” as “jr” or hearing “tr” as “chr” is pretty common for new spellers. Let your daughter know that never in English does “jr” appear. Every time she hears “jr” it is always dr. Also, in English, the /ch/ sound is never followed by an r (ch can be followed by an r but only when the ch says the /k/ sound, such as Chris or chrome). When she hears “/ch/-/r/” it is always tr.

“The smorning” is cute! It reminds me of my son putting “toof birashes” on the grocery list once (tooth brushes).

If you have difficulties or need help in anyway, just ask!

Shannon

says:

This will be great after we do all about reading level 1

Audra

says:

Great idea!

Tiffany

says:

This is awesome!

Sara M

says:

Love this program.

Mary C

says:

I am looking forward to using this in my new job as an elementary school learning resource teacher this year.

Nina

says:

Great strategies!

Jill DeLon

says:

This is a definite help when figuring out those tough to spell words.

Anita Flinchum

says:

I absolutely love this…

Lisa Ingle

says:

Great info!

Wendy Clark

says:

I can’t think of any specific words right now, but I know this has been a problem in our homeschooling life. And we all have a strong Southern accent so it can be even worse. :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wendy,
The Pin/Pen Merger is a big contributor to the difficulties with spelling with a Southern accent. It can take time to master short i and short e, but it can be done.

If you remember any specific words or need help in any way, let me know.

Jennifer Mull

says:

Love this program!

Jill

says:

English is so complicated with its spelling. Like most things, you just have to slow down at times. They’ll get there.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes! The slow and steady approach to spelling, like so many other things, is very effective. Thanks for pointing this out, Jill.

Kecia B

says:

This is such a good resource!

Kimberly Rand

says:

Our language is so complicated that we can’t teach kids that they can always “sound it out”. Many school districts don’t teach phonics anymore and I believe that is a major contributor to lower reading levels each year.

Jessica

says:

Thank you for the timely post. We begin our spelling journey this fall, so these concepts are good to keep in mind.

Robi

says:

Having a couple children that have had speech issues, I realized early on how important correct pronunciation was to both spelling and reading.

Sage H.

says:

This trick is so common sense, yet I have never thought of it before! I will definitely be making more of an effort to correct my child’s pronunciation. Thanks for the help!

Jen

says:

I get nostalgic that my 7 year old (who reads well) has stopped saying things wrong, because it was so cute! I am HOPING that it works the opposite way, as well . . . and that my 5 year old will (you know, if he ever learns his letters) start pronouncing words correctly. I.e. “this” instead of “dis.” We also have some minor speech issues, though, so that is part of the problem that we’re addressing.

Monite Vergel de Dios

says:

My husband has been telling me this for 12 years but it didn’t help until I learned syllable division and pronounciation. It also helped to learn to spell the base word first. I had really never heard these spelling basics before. I keep reminding my kids to do each of these steps as well. I love this article and learning along with my kids.

Julie

says:

Pronouncing for spelling has really helped us a lot! Our son had several words like that… “renember” was my favorite. As we started spelling, I realized I needed to correct some of those words that I loved to hear. He thinks it’s funny because I pretend to be sad that he’s growing up when he starts pronouncing them like a big boy.

Joyce@Joyful Creations at Home

says:

I realized this early on and quickly started cleaning up my pronunciation and correcting the kiddos whenever I hear it. We live in the south and it’s amazing what the dialect does to words down here:)

We begin English from the Roots Up next year. I am very excited to give my girls this Latin foundation for pronunciation and spelling.

Sharon

says:

Thanks for all your posts!

Nicole Rowles

says:

Great post and excellent points. I am the blessed mom to 2 daughters that are in speech therapy so I need to be particularly aware of pronunciation issues.

Rebecca

says:

It is a very good point. I also think sometimes their mispronunciations are funny and cute when they’re little, but when it’s time to learn to spell correctly–pronunciation is key! :)

Amanda Bowman

says:

So true. This is also true for sounding out beginning and ending sounds for toddlers just learning. If they can’t say it right then they surely can’t pick out the correct sound.

Stefanie

says:

So true. It’s hard when they’re little and their mis-pronuciations are so cute! I hate to correct them. Eventually it’s a must though.

Pamela

says:

I agree! Pronunciation is so important. I try to always model the correct pronunciation, but it is hard when my husband pronounces words incorrectly and I’ve been reminding him for a while about some words so our girls get it right!

Amansa

says:

Love the info. Thank you:):)

Christine M

says:

So true! I often correct my 6 and 8 year-olds when they’re mispronouncing words (‘hostipal’ instead of hospital, for example). My oldest used to get frustrated when I did this, but now he sees that it does help with his spelling. Thanks!

Caroline

says:

Great point about pronouncing words correctly. As a visual learner, I want to see the word to be able to pronounce it correctly in the first place. Thanks for bringing this point up for us all to be intentional about with ourselves and our kids!

Ruthie

says:

Thanks for the post!

Christina

says:

Marie, thanks for pointing out this simple yet important spelling tip! I think the same goes for grammar–speaking correctly is a step toward using grammar properly when writing.

Nicole Douglas

says:

I love to look up what words mean. It helps them make sense and gives more of a rich picture to what someone it trying to say. I wish I had more time to study latin roots, but for now I’m enjoying the feature on kindle e-readers to look up any word in the book just by selecting it. I would never do it if I had to go find the hard-copy dictionary only to find out that obscure word wasn’t in it.
Thanks!

Jennifer G

says:

Mispronouncing words has been one of our biggest spelling obstacles ever since we’ve been learning all the real spelling rules.

Shannon Wallace

says:

I agree, pronunciation is very important. I have always corrected by boys (even as toddlers) when they mis-pronounced things. This is a key element to speech and spelling.

Andrea

says:

This is my biggest problem with spelling. Hopefully all the times I repeat the proper pronunciation for my 4 year old will help when he starts learning to spell more words.

Elizabeth Little

says:

Great point!

I have a daughter who always pronounces “Draw” as “Drawl”. She is 6 now and I still haven’t corrected her because I secretly love the way she says it. Now I think I will show her how the word is spelled and practice it with her. I guess the time has come! I think showing her the spelling will really help. Thanks for all you do!

The Littles

Rachel Dow

says:

Great info & great reminder!

Beverly

says:

My children have all surprised me with the words they didn’t know they were pronouncing incorrectly until they learned how they are spelled!… Thank you for the reminder to be modeling good pronunciation.

Sherry

says:

I never thought about the way we say things as part of the problem with my kids spelling. Guess I should have but haven’t. Thanks for the info.

Carrie

says:

That is so true! There have been several times I’ve noticed that with my son! Thanks for the reminder!

Tauna

says:

makes sense! A few of those have popped up for me over the past year or two: treatise and Worcestershire sauce. :)

Alissa L

says:

Helpful suggestions!

stephanie

says:

Thank you for all your helpful insights!

Heather

says:

Yet another reason I love AAR & AAS! My son has a few mild speech issues. In working through his phonics and spelling lessons, he is becoming more aware of the errors he makes in pronunciation and is beginning to correct himself!

good point. My girls are just learning to write so it’s something I have not thought of before. Perhaps I will have to start correcting my daughter when she says “Yew Nork” but it’s just so stinking cute the way she says it.

Stephanie

says:

True, and it is so common now days.

Deborah

says:

I’ve never really thought about it before, but the correct pronunciation is vital. And like a previous poster, I have so much trouble learning a new word in another language if I don’t know the spelling. I really enjoy reading your blog posts!

Jessica

says:

Being a southern girl I never thought much about my accent until trying to help my daughter with spelling. I really have had to think about pronouncing my words correctly. There have been several times she has spelled a word incorrectly because of the way I say it.

Stephanie

says:

Great reminder how pronouncing words correctly has such a big impact!

JenRay

says:

We have never used a lot of baby talk around here, and I think our kids have pretty great vocabularies and pronunciations. We have done the gentle modeling and occasional correction (like “lellow”) as you describe. But As my youngest child’s language skills explode, I find myself missing some of their cute words. My DD no longer says “Blanklet” for her beloved companion, and this Christmas she pointed out blinking lights instead of “blinkling” ones. So I think I will let my son hang on to “Bargage truck” just a while longer! ;o)

Suzeanne Martinez

says:

I couldn’t agree more! My daughter has a horrible time pronouncing words correctly so in turn she spells them wrong. Sometimes it takes actually hearing the word for her to pronounce it correctly, thank goodness for computers, I guess.

crystal

says:

We work really hard on this, our son has autism and was nonverbal. I’m just glad he is saying anything at all. He is also very aware that things come out wrong and he gets upset.

Anne D

says:

Pronouncing for spelling is such a great tool we’ve learned through AAS. We have some laughs getting our mouths in the right position to say words in ways that are different from our everyday speech. But, we’ve also had a lot of great conversations about how this is helpful to remember how words are spelled and how I did this as a child on my own!

Heather

says:

This is SO true! It really bothers me to hear words pronounced incorrectly, especially to children. They will never learn to spell them correctly, if they don’t hear them pronounced correctly. Thanks for the reminder!

Michelle

says:

We’ve noticed this in our spelling lessons! I’m a military kid with roots in the midwest…and my pronunciations are a bit off at times. So AAS is helping my kids learn to spell and me to speak.

Shannon

says:

A good reminder! I have always gently corrected my son when he picks up pronunciations that will make spelling more difficult.

Ruthie

says:

thanks for the great post!

Carol O.

says:

We have a very midwestern type accent (normal) and we speak proper English most of the time. I have always told my children that what sounds right to them (from hearing it at home) probably is right since we make every effort to speak properly. I remind them what a benefit and asset this is to them in their studies that their ears are already attuned to proper pronunciation and grammar. However, spelling still can be a pain, due to words that do not follow rules and the fact that you can spell certain sounds more than one way. This is just a matter of memorization at that point. My 4th grader would benefit from a purposeful planned spelling curriculum and I am looking at yours to fill this gap.

Ann In L.A.

says:

For years, long before they were old enough to try to spell it, I had to keep telling the kids: A library is not a fruit!! (li-berry).

Jeanette

says:

I remember my father used to always correct the way I pronounced library. He’d always say “Libary? What’s a libray? I can’t take you there if I don’t know what it is.”

Charlene

says:

Great reminder to be careful about pronunciation. From the very beginning I have (almost) always responded to my children using correct pronunciation, even when it was tempting to mimic their oh so cute mispronunciations.

Amy S

says:

It’s amazing to me how much more closely I watch my pronunciation now that I realize the importance in spelling. Love the purple flowers in this post … they remind me of spring!

Emily

says:

This was a great post!

Shannon Boyd

says:

I have always been a great speller….but some of my children have really struggled with this area. God is teaching me patience and new ways of learning as I help them.

Jennifer in PA

says:

I have always been a pretty good speller but I find that after teaching my children I have improved in some areas; better understanding of why some words are spelled as they are and the rules now make sense in my mind.

Gloria

says:

This is something we seem to struggle with on a regular basis. Living in the Southern Appalachians we say words with many twangs. For instance the word Pen comes out Pin…Ben is Bin…and so on. This has been a hard one for my son to get. We do work on it though! Thanks so very much for your curriculum…it has been a life saver for my son!

Daiva B.

says:

That’s so true that correct pronunciation makes spelling easier! Great post!

Angela Ng

says:

That’s something I have not thought of. Thanks for the reminder.

Mama Mia

says:

Thanks for this post. It’s a gentle reminder to share more knowledge with my kids as we work in our garden.

Krista

says:

Great point. Sometimes I’m unsure about pronouciation myself

kathyl

says:

Making sure to pronounce words correctly is definitely a necessity. There is another matter of words that are not spelled the way they are pronounced (or pronounced the way they are spelled?). When my children need to learn to spell a word such as “Wednesday,” I’ll tell them that even though we might pronounce it “Wenz-day” (yes, I looked it up in the dictionary), we can think “Wed-nes-day” in order to spell it. This works well for words with silent letters, or where an unaccented vowel has the “schwa” sound. To learn “know,” think “k-now.” Of course, I ONLY do this if the child knows the correct pronunciation!

blubel49

says:

Some great ideas for helping with spelling :)

Merry

says:

I think I’ve always gently corrected my kids’ speech. Even as babies. Sometimes I adopted their cute sayings, but many times I just gently restated–if they said “mik” I cheerfully repeated, “Oh, would you like some milk?” and so on. Sometimes I might model for them instead, “Mom, may I please have some milk? Sure honey!” As they became developmentally ready to say more sounds or longer sentences, I had them try to restate things, but it was always done in a light manner. If I could see it frustrating them, I backed off.

I remember a “Funniest Home Video” of a little 2 or 3 year-old girl who wanted some grapes. She would ask for them but not say please, so her dad was trying to get her to say “please.” He’d model the word, she’d repeat, then he’d ask if she wanted some grapes, and she nodded happily and said, “mm-hmmm!” They did this over and over, and it was funny to watch, but I kept thinking, give the poor girl her grapes already! She just didn’t get it that she was to say please when he asked the question!

Pronouncing for spelling is a great strategy though, and has helped my kids a lot. So even if you haven’t corrected some (or any) words before, I don’t think it’s too late to start. I had teachers in school who drilled correct pronunciation on “because,” “library,” “February,” and “aunt” over and over! But it helped us!

Merry :-)

eskimo_princess

says:

Have you ever had trouble remembering a word if you don’t know how it is spelled? When I was learning Spanish, that was a big thing for me. Maybe because I am a visual learner.

At what age should you start correcting a child’s pronunciation? I’ve heard that with pronouns, for example, it’s best to model using them correctly such as restating their sentence using the correct words, but not to make a child say it again the correct way. Is that true?

What do you think about pronunciation? Do you start correcting pronunciation when a child is ready to start spelling? Before? Play it by ear and go with the child’s development?

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