Helping with vocabulary & spelling

  • Make sure your mentee has a ‘new vocabulary’ notebook from school (Love to Learn can provide one if not).
  • Reading, hearing and using words in context is best for aiding understanding and helping people remember them.
  • Thesauruses are excellent tools for helping intermediate/higher level students build their vocabulary, so encourage more advanced learners to look up synonyms rather than just reaching for the dictionary.
  • Why not test your mentee for synonyms: when they use a word like “big”, what other words could they use instead?
  • Have a look at the general service word list (of most common English words), and for more advanced students, the academic word list – how many do they know the meaning and spelling of?
  • You may want to do some focus sessions on prefixes (eg. inter- anti- sub-) which help learners identify patterns and decipher new words – but be careful as some have more than one meaning and there are always exceptions!
  • Your mentee may have regular spelling tests – if they do, try to find out when these are – you could test them on the week’s words in advance, or go over the ones he/she didn’t get right.
  • Remember: when learning to spell difficult words, look at the correct spelling, cover, write and then check. You’d be amazed at the number of children who simply write the same words again and again.

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