Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Spelling Sites

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There are a lot of sites out there designed for spelling practice. I thought it would be helpful to create a “The Best…” list to narrow them down a bit.

For English Language Learners, and for others, the best spelling sites are ones that offer audio and also use the words in the context of sentences. Websites that offer both are the most highly-rated on my list. And, of course, they have to be free to be here, too.

You can also find links to the sites here, and to many other spelling related resources, on my website under Spelling.

Here are my ranked choices of The Best Spelling Sites (that are best for English Language Learners):

Number thirteen is Catch The Spelling. It’s a series of games specifically geared towards English Language Learners.

Number twelve is the Alpha-Bot game. It’s a nice game where you first listen to the word spoken and then have to find the correct letters to spell it. I probably should place it a little higher on the list, but I learned about this game after I completed this post, and was just too lazy to change the rankings :).

Number eleven are spelling quizzes from The Interlink Language Center. They’re simple exercises, but there are a lot of them.

Number ten is Kidspell. There are a ton of spelling games, and you can also easily create ones using your own spelling lists. However, they’re not offered in context and there’s no audio pronunciation.

Number nine is Word Sort from Houghton Mifflin. In addition to providing audio, it has the added feature of challenging students to look for word patterns. However, the words are not used in sentences.

[This one may be permanently off-line, but I'm leaving it on this list just in case it starts working again]Number eight is Spellbee!,  a spelling game where, after you register, you choose a player to compete with in a spelling contest. Each player chooses from a variety of words and challenges their opponent online to correctly spell the word that is spoken to them in the context of a sentence.  It’s a pretty neat concept and, though the text-to-speech software it uses is definitely not top-tier, it’s still a game students would enjoy playing and would be accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners.  It’s quite easy for players to register very quickly. There’s also a slightly more complicated registration process that students and teachers can use in order for teachers to monitor student progress.

Number seven is Spin and Spell. It’s an excellent spelling and vocabulary-building exercise for ELL’s. Images and audio are provided, and players select the categories they want to use. It, too, however, doesn’t use the words in sentences.

Number six is Spellits, an excellent site from the BBC. It provides some direct instruction in spelling patterns — using audio and text — and has a number of games that provide the same level of support.

I don’t think that Spelling Bees different schools and communities sponsor are particularly healthy or educational for kids.  However, there are several online versions that I think would work well with ELL’s. I’m ranking Spelling Bee: The Game at number five.  It has lots of great features.  The only it’s missing, though, is that it appears like you can’t pick your level of difficulty.

Number four is no longer working.

Number three is the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee.  You don’t have to register to play, and it automatically adapts to your spelling ability. It remembers which words you got right and wrong and quizzes you periodically on words at your spelling level that you spelled incorrectly in the past. A human voice, and not a computerized one, says the words. Plus, it shows you a diagram of similar words.  It doesn’t give you a sentence example using the word, but I guess you can’t have everything…

Number two is The Spelling Bee from Annenberg Media. Not only does it let you pick your level of difficulty, provide audio support, and give the words in context, but the context is not just in a sentence — it tells you a story.

And, now, the number one Best Spelling Site is….Spelling City. It has all the features that one can ask for, and is plenty of fun. You can make your own word list, or create your own.

(I’ve posted about Tutpup several times, and must have had a “brain freeze” when I forgot to include it originally in this list. Thankfully, Steven Roberge kangirsuk reminded me about it. I’ll just quote how he described it, and you can also look at my previous posts on it:

Students must spell words that are spoken to them. The activity is a multi-player game. There are 5 levels of difficulty. Teachers can create class accounts, so they can monitor the progress and statistics of their students.)

Spellzone is a new interactive site to learn and practice…spelling. It has practice activities, games, and I especially like that the words are grouped based on spelling patterns — plus, they have audio, too! The only negative, and it’s a big one, is that the words are not used in sentences.

The British Council has just unveiled a new feature on their site called Speak And Spell. It has lots of interactives.

Though I wish they had a different name (I’m not fond of focusing attention to IQ tests and scores), Big IQ Kids does look like a good free site for students to practice spelling. It provides the word in the context of a sentence, provides synonyms, and even the “rules.” Plus, it provides audio support for all written text.

Spell is from The British Council. It has interactives for ELLs about…spelling.

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

9 Comments

  1. Hi Larry,

    I use http://www.tutpup.com. Students must spell words that are spoken to them. The activity is a multi-player game. There are 5 levels of difficulty. Teachers can create class accounts, so they can monitor the progress and statistics of their students.

  2. Hello Larry,

    This site does not help with teaching spelling, but it does help with teaching sentence structure and sentence diagramming.

    It focuses on teaching grammar through sentence diagrams. Many ESL/EFL students and teachers use it.

    http://www.english-grammar-revolution.com

    :) Best,
    Elizabeth

  3. Great post! I am a college sophomore with a dual major in Physics and Mathematics @ University of California, Santa Barbara. By the way, i came across these excellent spelling flashcards. Its also a great initiative by the FunnelBrain team. Amazing!!!

  4. Thanks Larry. There are some great sites here. I would only like to add the BBC Skillswise site (http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/words/spelling/waystolearn/lookcover/game.shtml). It’s a good fun site that students of all ages love. One strength is the content based wordlists. These help to connect the learning of spelling to the learning of vocabulary – something I am very keen on. Too often students are put off spelling as it appears to have little or no connection to language learning. This helps to redress that balance. Another reason to highlight this one is that it is a visual site that teaches spelling by looking at words, which is the way after all that spelling works.
    As a teacher of EFL I am most unconvinced by the aural approach as driven by dictation or dictation like programs. Given the nature of the English language that does tend to compound spelling problems as opposed to solving them

  5. In your opinion, is it better to fix millions of logical children who cannot read an illogical language or fix an illogical language so that logical children can read! Think I am nuts! Roosevelt, G. B. Shaw, Mark Twain, Carnegie, Websters, B. Franklin, and Dewey all agree with me! Were they nuts?

    Don’t worry! We won’t force you to learn a new language, but your kids and/or grand-children will thank you if you lobby our elected politicians to start to phase in a regularized spelling system in schools in 2020.

  6. SpellingCity is my favorite! My students pay the games using their weekly words on our interactive whiteboard during literacy centers. I love that I can give my tests online.

  7. anything for (young) adults?

  8. I came across your web site and have enjoyed reading the articles and content. The focus of your site is along the lines of our unique spelling word game app; Triwordz. I believe our free app may be of interest to you and your readers. I hope you find it fun, and worthy enough to consider mentioning on your site or sharing with your subscribers. You can download it via Google Play or the Apple app store. More information can be found at http://www.triwordz.com.

    Thank you and respectfully,
    Alan London

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