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Remembering Spelling


Techniques Memory methods > Remembering Spelling

Usage | Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Use to remember words that are difficult to spell.


Write the words one per flashcard. These cards should be about 12" x 4" if possible, but use whatever works for you (you can make an easy one by folding a piece of printer paper in half).

When writing the words:

  • Break them down into syllables or convenient groups of letters (the optimum is three, but you can go up and down a bit from this).
  • Separating each group of letters with a hyphen.
  • Use lower-case letters (only use upper-case for initial letters of proper nouns where the word is always written this way).
  • Write particularly tricky bits in red.

Now find out where you look when you remember an image. For many people it is up and to the right. Place the flashcards in this position, so if you were recalling a visual image you would naturally look at the card. Also place it at a distance where your eyes are focused when thinking of images, which is usually several feet away.

Make sure there are no distracting other things in the field of vision. Putting the card up against a blank wall on a small shelf is a good way of doing this.

Now look at the card. Say the word out loud, pausing at each hyphen. Do this several times to fix the card in your memory.

Then take the card away and look in the same place, imagining it is there. Read out the letter groups again from the imaginary card. If you cannot remember it, put the card back and repeat until you can remember.

Do this repeatedly over time. Start once every few minutes. Then every hour. Then every day. When you have a few minutes to spare, run through the list of words to see if you can remember them.







This works because much memory is visual and, curiously, we tend to look in the same direction when we are recalling an image. Placing the card in that space helps fix the image into memory.

Breaking the word into syllables or letter groups simplifies the task. It is easier to remember a sequence of small words than lots of letters. Around three letters is best because it is not so small as to break up the word too much and also is easy to remember, often forming a word of its own.

Using lower-case is better because it enhances the visual memory with the shape of descenders and risers of the letters (eg. 'g' has a descender and 'h' has a riser).

Writing the tricky bits in red makes these stand out and hence makes them even more memorable.

See also

Remembering Passwords


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