Using scrabble tiles to help teach spelling

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Using scrabble tiles to help teach spelling

Post by pengyou » Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:29 am

I teach primary school in China and have found that, even at the university level, students still seem to take a mental picture of a whole word and memorize it the way it looks, rather than observing the individual letters. I am trying to find a way to help students learn - consume - the idea that the letters of the alphabet are like bricks that make up a house.

I know that mathmatics uses small objects for students to count to help them learn principals of unity - these are called maniputables, iirc. Do you think using tiles from scrabble would help me achieve my goal?

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Post by Sally Olsen » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:59 am

It might.

I wonder if your theory is true for everyone though. People learn in different ways. I thought most people learned by chunks rather than whole words or at least read in chunks of three or four letters together. I would be interested to know how you came to the conclusion that they learn whole words.

Spelling is hard in English. I think there is a lot more to it but practice does seem to help. I rely on the spell check of the computer. Just writing as much as possible seems to help some of my students.

Here is one of many online sights to help you think about what to do:
There are some good Youtube videos as well.

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Post by pengyou » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:38 pm

Thanks...when I have taught high school or university students, I noticed that when a word had an "s" at the end or and "or" or an "er", my students first response is that it was a completely different word. I talked to some of their teachers and they said that they learned Chinese by memorizing the strokes and shapes in each word so the students apply the same skill to studying English that they use to study Chinese.

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Post by KatrinaB88 » Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:55 pm


I think in China, students do actually memorise full words, this is because 99% of them did not learn to read in English using phonics and many even at university still don't know that each letter has a sound and then those letters are combined etc to make other sounds. Scrabble will be perhaps useful to demonstrate word patterns. Or if you want to change how the students view English words, you can give phonics lessons and show how the system works. I've recently developed a software program for beginners, kids and parents who are starting out on English and I show them that each letter has a name and a sound. If you wish to start with your older students you can show them this for a start, it's FREE and you can see it at

All the best.


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