Spelling out success


The Daily Mail, one of Britain’s biggest selling newspapers, faced embarrassment this week when it misspelled one of its headlines.

Have a look at the image of the newspaper below. Can your students spot the mistake? (Hint: look to the country!)

English is a language notorious for its difficult and at times downright illogical spelling. To help your students avoid such linguistic pitfalls why not have a lesson all about getting those tricky words right and what better way to do it than by holding your very own class spelling bee.

Have your students write a list of 5 words they always misspell (allow dictionaries!) before pooling their answers. Finally throw in ten of your choosing to make things really interesting. A sample list might be; Millennium, occasionally, privilege, recommend, separate, independent, embarrass, definite, calendar, apparent, though it would need tailoring to the level of the class.

Introduce them to the idea of the competition by showing them the trailer for Spellbound, a documentary following children involved in a US spelling bee. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkbJWZvBVvk

To play, each student is given in turn a word that they must spell. If they spell it wrong they are eliminated, if they are successful they survive and make it through to the next round. If they are unclear of the meaning, they can ask to hear the word used in a sentence. Will anyone be crowned spelling champion and make it to the end of list?



  • i’ve just read this post and felt the urge to try it asap… it happened today and suprisingly, my students also listed ’embarrassed’ :). other difficult words were those with the -ous suffix and those that contain double consonants more than once (address, success). it was also hard for them to distinguish ‘stripped’ and ‘striped’. more interestingly, enough is usually written by an extra ‘t’ at the end. who knows why? anyway, thanks for the great lesson idea, it proved to be refreshing and really useful.

    Posted by Henrietta Vaska [HUN] on March 01st 2011
  • Hi Henrietta,

    I am happy to hear that you tried the lesson idea and it worked with your students!It sounds like it was a really good experience. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Posted by Joanna Trzmielewska on March 04th 2011
  • Thanks Henrietta!
    Always great to hear from teachers we are putting lesson ideas into practice. It seems that the words that students find difficult to spell are the same the world over. Did you find any star spellers in your class?!

    Posted by Nerys Morton on March 10th 2011

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