2nd Edition

Spelling for Life Uncovering the Simplicity and Science of Spelling

By Lyn Stone Copyright 2021
    232 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    232 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    There is a myth that English spelling is unnecessarily complex, and it is spread by those who don’t understand the writing system. Spelling for Life offers lucid, accessible tools which help to reveal that, when explicitly and systematically taught, spelling is scientific, law-abiding and even elegant.

    Using a synthesis of theory, research and teaching experience, the fascinating nature of English spelling is systematically teased out. The examples and exercises throughout offer an encouraging, accessible way to implement the program of study and strive to reveal the beauty of spelling. Spelling for Life enables teachers and students to:

    • learn what the common spelling coping strategies are;

    • gain insights into undoing poor spelling habits;

    • work together to reveal patterns not only in regular spelling, but also in words which on the surface seem to break the spelling rules;

    • practise successful spelling strategies, progressing from simple to complex words rapidly and with confidence.

    This new and improved edition includes updated spelling techniques as well as new chapters on orthographic mapping, spelling assessment, teaching consonant clusters well and suffixing rules. Aided by example lessons, formative assessments, unique tools, a scope and sequence, and extensive practice lists, this highly acclaimed overview of spelling succeeds in developing theory and practice in the writing system for teacher and student alike.


    1. Orthographic Mapping
    2. Spelling Assessment
    3. Broken Rules and Word Stories
    4. Word Families
    5. Homophones
    6. Mnemonics
    7. Counting Syllables
    8. Affixes
    9. The Spelling Formula
    10. The Difference Between Vowels and Consonants
    11. What Consonants Say
    12. Round the Blend
    13. Illegal Letters
    14. The Single Vowels
    15. The Letter ‘y’
    16. Final Silent E, Jobs 1-3
    17. FINAL SILENT E Job 4
    18. Final Silent E and Suffixes
    19. Final Silent E Additional Jobs
    20. The Wicked Sisters and Other Wacky Rs
    21. The Vowel Generator
    22. Strong and Weak Syllables
    23. Schwa
    24. To Double or not to Double?
    25. The return of illegal ‘i’
    26. The Suffix Generator
    27. More Fascinating Patterns
    28. Some Delightful Lists
    29. A Suggested Scope and Sequence

    Appendix 1. Forgive me, Scotland

    Appendix 2. The Triangle Game

    Appendix 3 Why not just make spelling simpler?


    Lyn Stone is a linguist and author in private practice. She lives and works in Victoria, Australia, where she runs her education consultancy, Lifelong Literacy. Her goal is to help teachers awaken linguistic curiosity in their students using creative, engaging tools and strategies, based upon scientific consensus as to what constitutes best practice.

    ‘In the digital age, when spellchecking is almost universal, it is easy to forget the essential role of learning to spell in becoming literate. In this update to her book, Lyn Stone reminds us that learning to spell is more than just the tedious task of memorizing lists of words. Learning to spell is the partner of learning to read, each enhancing and dependent on the other. Lyn not only reminds us of the importance of spelling, but shows us how to teach it in a way that fits with learning to read and matches what we know about how young brains become literate.’

    Steven P. Dykstra PhD, Psychologist and Member of the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction & CORELearn National Advisory Board

    ‘We used to teach spelling more effectively, but since whole language, balanced literacy and multi-cueing reading instruction has dominated classrooms, teaching spelling has been replaced by approaches that rely on visual memory; a very inefficient strategy. You cannot teach what you do not know, so as an academic who works with pre-service and experienced teachers, who can rarely explain why words are spelled the way they are, Spelling for Life will provide the lesson plan, words and knowledge to make explicit how to teach the conventions of the writing system.’

    Dr Lorraine Hammond, PhD CF AM, Associate Professor, Edith Cowan University, Australia

    ‘Lyn Stone has done the (almost) impossible! With technical accuracy and scientific precision, she provides an approach that makes spelling your friend. When you look for a friend, don’t you want someone reliable and predictable, as well as fun and interesting? Lyn’s masterful description of the English writing system shows spelling in that light. Learning how to spell well becomes fascinating and approachable. And Lyn offers instructors a framework that weaves spelling into a larger literacy context. Not only will students have improved spelling, but their ability to read and express themselves is bound to grow too, with careful attention paid to the many layers of our complex language.’

    Sara Peden, R. Psych, Member Ontario College of Teachers