What Causes Spelling Problems

What Causes Problems with Spelling

Now Open — At-Home and Online Spelling Program with Phonics. Learn More

Many children and even adults have problems and difficulties with spelling. Spell check can often only get you so far. Sometimes spell check cannot even tell what word it is you are trying to spell. You may have even written a word that is a word, but not the word you intended to write.

Poor spelling abilities can lead to a lack of confidence and poor performance at school. By the time you are entering the workforce, a spelling error on your resume could be the difference between landing an interview or not.

People who have poor spelling abilities sometimes avoid using words that are out of their spelling abilities for fear of making spelling mistakes. They can also be reluctant to share their work or participate in activities like writing on a white-board in front of a group or typing comments in a virtual learning environment.

There are two primary systems that impact your ability to spell. These are the visual and auditory systems. If these systems are not working as well as they should be, you are likely to have spelling problems.

Auditory Processing Affects Spelling Difficulties

Auditory processing is the system in your brain that is able to make sense of the sounds that you hear. If you hear a word that you haven’t seen multiple times and need to spell it, you will typically rely on spelling it by sounding it out. The process of sounding a word out relies on several areas of auditory processing. If you’ve seen a word multiple times and need to spell it, you will more often make a picture in your mind of what the word looks like and then you are able to spell it.

Auditory Discrimination

Auditory discrimination impacts spelling through your ability to tell the differences between individual sounds and words that are slightly different.

Example words

  • mob and mop
  • very and berry
  • scream and stream
  • mesh and mush

If you aren’t able to hear the difference between individual sounds, you may spell a word that has a completely different meaning than you intended.

My daughter had this problem when she was growing up. She had trouble discriminating the differences between individual sounds in a word. She often came home in tears week after week on spelling test day after getting low marks. She may have inherited her spelling problems from her father. I recall her father bringing his handwritten papers to me in college and asking me to type them up. His spelling was so bad I often had to guess at the word he wanted.

Auditory Visual Integration

This is the ability to accurately relate an auditory sound with a visual symbol. This is a beginning reading skill in the areas of phonemic awareness and phonics. This is crucial for younger students as they associate different sounds to their specific letter combinations.

Auditory Closure

Auditory-closure in relation to spelling is the ability to combine sounds that are presented orally to make words. For instance, when given the individual sounds: /c/, /a/, and /t/; auditory closure is the ability to bring those individual sounds together to make the word /cat/. It is also the ability to fill in the missing piece of a word. For example, if I were to say po _a to, you would be able to fill in the missing /t/ and say /potato/.

At-Home and Online Spelling Program with Phonics

Our online spelling program integrates auditory, visual, and tactile-kinesthetic processing skills. We have different levels for grades K-8. Your child will learn to spell 10 new words each week. We break up each week of words according to their spelling patterns. There are 8 primary spelling patterns that your students will learn over the course of the program.

Online Spelling Program

The spelling program is loaded with puzzles, worksheets, and card games to make spelling fun. By learning the spelling patterns, your kids will learn to spell not only the words in the program but thousands of words that all follow the same patterns. Your child will unlock the code to spelling!

Learn More


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