Bilingual Education Tip: Copying Misspelled Words Once a Day

I was recently pointed to the wonderful Instagram account of English with Holly. This account is a gem for any mom wanting her child to work on their English literacy skills. The feature I am most crazy about is Holly’s weekly live Spellathon. For each key stage group, Holly dictates 15 words in a weekly live class on her YouTube channel.  She also puts up a PDF with extra activities on her Facebook group, in which she suggests to copy five times each misspelled word.

This task I have actually been brought up with as a trilingual child.  My mum used to have me do French (our minority language back then) dictations  and asked me to write 5 times each mistake. Fast forward to nowadays and I have tried this method with my eldest, but somehow I do not feel like this is working for her.  She usually rushes through it, as it takes her some time given she makes on average 4 to 5 mistakes in her dictations. I have narrowed it down to 3 times, but even then…

Holly’s tasks PDF got me thinking again. As always with bilingual education, it is you who knows your child best and you need to think out-of-the-box.

What I have noticed is that my eldest seems to learn through an exaggerated level of repetition (apparently a necessary evil in the development of any child, according to Spanish neuropsychologist Alvaro Bilbao). When reading she asks me the meaning of the same word time and time again.  And more often than not, she asks again barely 2 minutes later when coming across the same word on the following page!

A lightbulb suddenly went on in my mind and I thought of my eldest writing the word only once but on a longer time span, for instance a week. For this, and to help keep track, I designed a table in our minority language homework exercise book with the weekdays in the columns and words across.

It is a simple idea but it has several advantages to it:

  1. It creates a daily routine, and kids learn best through routines (think of the ABC song sang daily at school 😉 ),
  2. If you use an exercise book rather than random sheets of paper, you will be able to keep track of the dictations and the copying,

  3. You can create a monthly homemade Spellathon based on the misspelt words your child has been copying over the previous month, as a means to check whether the correct spelling has sunk in.

I hope this idea can be of help to you.  I cannot promise it works but it is an idea: last Sunday my eldest managed to misspell one word in a text I dictated from her ml magazine.  However, when we re-used a Spellathon list to work on refreshing her phonics, I asked her to break down the words into phonics and then spelling it out loud; the result was good. She seemed to remember her spelling. 🙂


  • If English is not your minority language, you can create your own Spellathon by googling a list of high-frequency words in your ml or short ml dictations for your child’s age level.

  • You can create a monthly homemade Spellathon based on the misspelt words your child has been copying over the previous month, as a means to check whether the correct spelling has sunk in.
  • Ask your child to look up words they are unfamiliar with in the dictionary.
  • Use an exercise book rather than random sheets of paper.  This will enable you to:
    • keep track of the dictations and copying,
    • be able to create a monthly Spellathon of your own to revise all the spellings learnt,
    • create a sense of structure and discipline in your ml homework,
    • create a subliminal reminder in your child’s mind every time s/he lays eyes on the book as s/he will associate the book with the copying.
  • Instead of nagging at your child not to forget to copy his/her daily words, you can leave as a discrete reminder the exercise book lying about in an obvious place (e.g: coffee table/ dinner table), open at the right page with a pen

  • You can reward each correctly completed column with a sticker. Kids love them and are a visual reminder of their accomplishment.

What are your best tips to help your child pick up the ml spelling?  Please share them in the comment section!


  1. Hello, we’re lucky to be working on Spanish which is blessedly logical when it comes to spelling; only a few homophones that are tricky. I guess I’d have my child write sentences with the words so they are in context. But I’ve noticed that elementary schools are slower to correct spelling these days than when I was in school. I think reading in the target language is the best thing we can have our kids do to learn good spelling. Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

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