A Day in the Life of…an Adult Literacy Tutor

A student in one of my Adult Basic Education (ABE) groups has a
spelling 'bugbear'.  In fact, everyone I know does, but in this 
class we were going through each student's personal 'favourite' 
and trying to come up with individual ways to remember the 
spelling causing problems.  Victor (not his real name) had 
problems with the word 'because'.  Despite several helpful 
suggestions from the rest of the class, he settled on his own 
invention: "I write down 'be', then I think of California for 
'ca' and then 'use' comes at the end.  That's it: be-ca-use, 
because."   I had to agree, it was unique!  Would it work?  
Would he still remember it next time round?

Skip forward to later that week when I had a different group, 
a slighter higher level, who were writing answers to some 
questions on a piece of text they had just read.  "How do you 
spell 'because'?" asked Bridget (not her real name).  I was 
about to explore this with her when she started muttering 
something to herself.  I listened and just managed to catch, 
"Big elephants can't..."  and that was it.  Bridget, however, 
looked happy and wrote the word 'because' correctly.  
When she had finished, I asked her what she had said to 
herself, that it sounded like a poem.  At first she was a bit 
sheepish and told me it was just the way she always remembers 
how to spell 'because'.  With a little more coaxing, she recited
 the following:  "Big elephants can't always use stairs easily."  
Brilliant!  A rare 'light-bulb' moment for me as a tutor!  
I couldn't wait to bring this back to Victor!

The next class I had with Victor and crew, I was so excited 
as we went through a recap of the problematic spellings from 
last time.  "I have one for you, Victor," I told him, confident 
in the knowledge that his chagrin was nearly over.  
I told the story of Bridget and recited her memory prompter poem.  
That's when I looked at Victor properly and realised his face was 
creased with confusion, bordering on panic..."Oh no..." he groaned, 
"I'll never remember all that!!  Can't I stick to 'be' - California 
- 'use'?"  Did you ever get that feeling of foolishness that comes 
over you when you've stepped unintentionally over some unseen mark?  
That's how I felt.  Of course Victor could continue to spell 'because' 
in his own way, and he certainly didn't need my permission to do so!  
What did I learn?  That everyone has their own unique memory 
strategies, their own unique learning styles and, above all, 
that what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.  

What spelling strategies do you have and are you willing to share them?  
Thanks for reading.

Hello world!