Painless Spelling

Painless Spelling

by Mary Elizabeth
Publisher: Barron's
3rd Edition, ©2011, ISBN: 9780764147135
Trade Paperback, 304 pages
Price: $9.99

There's no doubt English is a difficult language to learn how to spell properly. Between words borrowed from other languages, differences in American and British spelling, and multiple exceptions to supposedly universal phonetic rules, it's surprising anyone learns to spell. Author Mary Elizabeth suggests no one actually does, that we are all constantly learning to spell as new words enter our vocabularies and usage changes, but that some get better at it than others.

Painless Spelling will help middle and high school students join that privileged group, and not only to spell known words correctly but to have a grasp of the language that translates to proper spelling even of unfamiliar words. Students begin by learning to identify sound and sight patterns which serve as building blocks for the construction of words. From there they study and memorize suffixes and prefixes, homophones, changes in pronunciation, compounds, etc., all of which continue the building block theme so kids are prepared when they encounter words they don't know.

Scattered throughout the text is information concerning the history of English and how these changes have affected spelling. Frequent "Brain Ticklers" provide opportunities for written work so students can hone their new skills—exercises range from word searches and crossword puzzles to further research to simply writing out lists of words. Answers to all "Brain Ticklers" are found at the end of each chapter in which they appear.

While this course starts at the beginning (kids begin with three-letter words and progress from there) it's assumed students will have had previous spelling or phonics instruction. Because it's geared for older students, we don't recommend this for younger kids unless they're just not challenged enough by more basic work. Painless works equally well as reinforcement or a remedial text. Its fun tone and easy-to-comprehend instruction make this a great resource for any older students or even adults who have trouble spelling or just want a better grasp of the reasons behind the often erratic spellings of English words.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
Summary Uses the idea that our ability to spell is constantly in flux to help readers of all ages from middle school on to improve.

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