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Top Tips for the CD-ROM
Find out how to practise
spelling with SoundSearch


Top Tips for the CD-ROM
Spelling practice with SoundSearch
by Jane Bottomley

The SoundSearch tool of the Macmillan English Dictionary CD-ROM allows you to search for words by the way they sound. This tool is ideal for practising pronunciation and raising students' awareness of the relationship between sound and spelling in English.

In this issue of the magazine I will give you tips on how students can use the SoundSearch to work on commonly misspelt words, whilst at the same time practising using the phonemic symbols.

Dictation of commonly misspelt words

Aim To raise awareness of common spelling mistakes and practise using the phonemic symbols.
Activity Students try to spell words and transcribe them into phonemic script.

1. Choose about 10 words that cause problems for the class. Common spelling mistakes can be gleaned from students' written work or taken from the list below (based on my own students' errors, with the problems in brackets):

beautiful (vowel combination; double l)
weather (wheather)
absence (absense)
millennium (single l or n)
definitely (definately)
accommodation (single c or m)
writing (writting - confusion with written)
vehicle (vehicule)
advertisement (advertisment)
successful (single c or s; double l)

2. Dictate the words to the students. Where there is ambiguity, give students further hints. For example, weather (noun) as opposed to whether (conjunction): He walked for five miles in bad weather.

3. Students compare spellings and try to correct each other's spelling mistakes.

4. Students work in pairs to write phonemic transcriptions using the SoundSearch key.

5. Students type their transcriptions into the SoundSearch tool and check their spellings. Point out to them that they need to include the stress mark(s) in their transcriptions.

6. In class, draw particular attention to:

  • the use of the single l -ful suffix in adjectives (eg beautiful, faithful, successful) and the double l -fully suffix in adverbs (eg beatifully, faithfully, successfully).
  • the single t in the present participle writing, compared to the double t in the past participle written.


As a follow-up activity, students can open Pronunciation Practice and record and play back their own pronunciation of the words.