Let’s face it, the English language is confusing. Years after leaving school my spelling is still atrocious, I still struggle to work out when and where I should use capital letters, I have no idea when, where and how to use a comma and semi-colons…don’t even go there! Some of these issues I guess are down to dyslexia but others I feel are partly down to the lack of grammar taught when I was at school.
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Current pupils have been plonked right into the middle of the debate around the regimented approach of Phonics vs the engagement that can be achieved with the Whole Word Method. While the Phonics Vs Whole Word camps battle it out, team Mnemonics has been quietly helping dyslexic readers tackle the irregularities of the English language for years. A new book by Lidia Stanton gives 200 ways to commit some of the trickier parts of the English language to memory.
When I was asked to review ‘200 Tricky Spellings in Cartoons: Visual Mnemonics for Everyone,’ I initially thought it wouldn’t quite be the right fit for The Codpast. We’re exclusively a resource for adult dyslexics, so a cartoon book to learn spelling seemed a bit childish. Despite my reservations, I took a look at a sample of the book and instantly, one anomaly of the English language I’ve always struggle with was resolved. I have always been perplexed by the subtle difference between the words affect and effect. It’s been explained to me time and time again but I’ve just never quite grasped it. This book tackled the explanation with a simple cartoon, which included word and letter associations, a story and cartoon with kinetic examples of the words usage and a more traditional explanation of the two words. This gave me three points of reference to assess which word should be used in which situation.
Image of two pages
Mnemonics (pronounced ‘neumonics’) is a memory device that exploits the brains ability to efficiently process, store and recall rhymes, images and scenarios. It then associates language rules, spellings and tricky words to this easily retrievable information. This can be an effective way for dyslexics to utilise the creative part of their brains, rather than just trying to process pure information. I used a similar technique when memory man Jake O’Gorman, taugh me how to associate playing cards with friends and families to recall the order of a shuffled pack of cards.
Although the large simple text and simple cartoons in this book are aimed at younger readers, there was a surprising amount of use that I got out of this book. The book is split into 6 chapters, the first two explain how to use the book and the concept of Mnemonics, the remaining 4 chapters tackle confusing pairs, tricky everyday words, tricky formal/academic words and the amusing ‘unfortunate words within words.’ Each chapter is laid out in alphabetical order so you can use the book like a dictionary and go straight to the words that cause you most problems.
With the help of Mnemonics, I now know the difference between whether and weather, principal and principle and can totally nail where the C’s and S’s go in the word necessary. This may be a book you want to buy for the child, niece or nephew in your life, with a view to flicking through to get a few tips and tricks for yourself.
To be put into our draw to win a copy of this book for yourself, drop us a line with the answer to this question: How did Jake O’Gorman teach me to memorise cards. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or find it at Amazon: 200 Tricky Spellings in Cartoons: Visual Mnemonics for Everyone
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