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What Are Spelling Mnemonics?

Defined in broad terms, a mnemonic is a device, procedure, or operation that is used to improve memory. Defined in narrow terms — and what is usually meant by the word — a mnemonic is a specific reconstruction of target content intended to tie new information more closely to the learner’s existing knowledge base and, therefore, facilitate retrieval.

There are a variety of mnemonic techniques, including keywords, pegwords, acronyms, acrostics, loci methods, spelling mnemonics, phonetic mnemonics, number-sound mnemonics, and Japanese “Yodai” methods.

Spelling mnemonics are intended to help us remember the spelling of words. In order to remember that the word “cemetery” is spelled with three e’s, for example, one can picture a lady screaming ‘e-e-e’ as she walks past the cemetery. Below are several more examples.

It should be noted that there are at least two problems in teaching mnemonics to children with learning disabilities. The first problem is that it overlooks the sequential fashion of learning. Mnemonics instruction is, to a large extent, instruction in memory techniques, which should be taught only after the skill of memory has been learned. It can be compared to a child being taught soccer tactics, such as the “wall pass,” while he has not yet adequately mastered the skill of passing the ball. As stated in Knowabout Soccer, “No matter how good your passing technique, if the quality of your passing is poor, your technique will not be effective.” The second problem is that by teaching the child to use memory crutches, the result is that, “on more complex applications, generalization attempts [are] less successful.” If the skill of memory is taught, however, the child can apply it in any situation.

Edublox programs teach — among other skills — the skill of memory, which makes it possible for a child to apply his memory in any situation.

Examples of spelling mnemonics:

affect/effect:
Use the word RAVEN to remember when to use “affect” versus “effect”.

R emember
A ffect
V erb
E ffect
N oun

argument:
Argument or arguement? I lost an ‘e’ in an argument.

arithmetic:
Use first letter of each word: A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream.

ascertain:
When you ascertain a fact, be AS CERTAIN as you possibly can.

beautiful:
BEAU
tiful > Big Elephants Are Ugly.

because:
Use first letter of each word: Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants.

believe:
I do not beLIEve a LIE.

bookkeeper:
Triple compound: oo kk ee

complement/compliment:
Complement adds something to make it enough; compliment puts you in the limelight.

dilemma:
Emma faced a dilEMMA.

desert/dessert:
Remember that a desert is Sandy; dessert has two s’s in it, like Sweet Stuff.

does:
Use first letter of each word: Daddy Only Eats Sandwiches.

eight:
Use first letter of each word: Every Indian Goes Home Tonight.

friend:
Use first letter of each word: Fred Rushed In Eating Nine Doughnuts.

geography:
Use first letter of each word: George’s Elderly Old Grandfather Rode A Pig Home Yesterday.

hear/here:
You HEAR with your EAR.

innocent:
IN NO CENTury is murder an innocent crime.

island:
An island IS LAND surrounded by water.

laugh:
Use first letter of each word: Laughing Aunts Under Green Hats.

necessary:
Use first letter of each word: Never Eat Crisps, Eat Salad Sandwiches, And Remain Young! Or to remember that neCeSSary has one C and two S’s remember one collar and two sleeves.

measurement:
Be SURE of your meaSUREments before you start work.

ocean:
Use first letter of each word: Only Cats’ Eyes Are Narrow.

pieces:
PIEces of a PIE.

principal/principle:
Your princiPAL is your PAL; A ruLE can be called a principLE (both end in –le).

rhythm:
Use first letter of each word: Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move.

said:
Use first letter of each word: Snakes And Insects Dance.

sculpture/sculptor:
A sculPTURE is a kind of piCTURE.

separate:
There was a farmer named Sep and one day his wife saw a rat. She yelled, “Sep! A rat – E!!!” or
Always smell a rat when you spell separate.

slaughter:
Slaughter is LAUGHTER with an S at the beginning.

stationary/stationery:
Stationery contains er and so does paper; stationary (not moving) contains ar and so does car.

together:
Remember how to spell “together” by noting that if you GET HER, you’ll be “together.”

tomorrow:
Use first letter of each word: Trails Of My Old Red Rose Over Window.
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