I just found this interesting article:
Having worked with English language learners (ELLs in teacher talk) for many years,and with many of my other clients, spelling is always a big issue. Recently I tried something I learned with ELLs when a grammar school aged client was stuck on the letters Q, X, and Z. We pulled out a big sheet of paper and made lists. We listed of all the words they knew with each letter. When it came to Z and the only words recalled were zoo and zebra, we began with last names. What last names did they know that began or ended with Z? Together we came up with mostly Spanish surnames liked Melendez and Martinez.
When I teach my beginner ELLs I can get a good sense of how strong their vocabulary is by going through the alphabet with them and seeing how many words they can come up with for each letter. I’ve also modified this as described above or have found different ways to modify based on the age, grade, or other factors of the person I am working with.
How have you learned spelling over the years? Have you ever done any interesting spelling exercises?