Case Studies – Learning to spell

Learning to use Magical Spelling

Hear about some of our previous Magical Spelling pupils:

The impact learning Magical Spelling had on a dyslexic

I am dyslexic and I couldn’t spell at all. Not being able to spell really affected me at school as I had to concentrate my effort on being able to spell to the detriment of what I was writing. As I progressed up the career ladder I needed to write more complex documents and reports and I always had a feeling of dread when I needed to write one. It really affected my self-confidence and I worried that I would get found out.

I attended the NLP conference a number of years back and I met Cricket Kemp who taught me Magical Spelling. Initially I felt sick learning it as it brought up all the years I had struggled. After half an hour I could spell one of the words by myself. On returning home I decided to persevere with the strategy and learnt 3 new words daily for quite a while. While doing this I also processed all the defences I had built up over 35 years to cope with being unable to spell.

I was so impressed with the results that I wondered why this fantastic technique is not taught in our schools when we have so many young people leaving school illiterate. I then started working with Caitlin to become a licensed trainer of Magical Spelling. I now take it into schools to train the staff, children and their parents so that the next generation learns in a way I would have loved to have been taught.

I’d always struggled with spelling as a child and by the time I was at University I could spell the same word 4 different ways in one essay and found it impossible to tell which was the right one or even to look words up in the dictionary to find the right spelling.

I realise, looking back as an adult, that I was part of a generation of pupils who were taught ITA Initial Teaching Alphabet where words were written phonetically: kat for cat etc. The idea was that this would improve our reading and then we switched to regular spelling at about 7. I think it really messed up my ability to learn visually.

I read by sounding the words out and you could see my lips move. When Cricket taught me Magical Spelling I was 24 years old. I was resistant to it at first, thinking it would be another way for me to fail but was amazed when I could spell hippopotamus and miscellaneous forwards and backwards in minutes.

Then my brain started to automatically store the correct spelling for words whenever I saw them and within a year most of my spellings were correct. This made such a difference to my self confidence.

I started teaching fellow students and then opened a Magical Spelling club in Kings Cross on a Wednesday night at 50p a go. We were swamped! Even when they could spell diarrhoea, they kept coming back for more. I realised that children wanted this process not just to spell but because it made them feel good about themselves and they enjoyed teaching it to one another.

I also noticed a new benefit to myself which was that my brain had switched to visual reading and my reading speed increased. Cricket had long suspected this could happen and wanted more research.

I teamed up with Nancy Doyle and together we looked at how the technique could be used as the starting point to a whole response to dyslexia and also to literacy in general.

It has taken all of my dyslexic shame away and replaced it with pride and curiosity about what else my fantastic brain can learn.

Shaun Hotchkiss - Magical Spelling Limited
My spelling has always been something I’m afraid of and will avoid. I’d choose humour to defend myself against it but I always felt exposed.The biggest thing that Magical Spelling did for me was to give me a simple tool I can use successfully. If I want to learn a word I can, that’s a big change for me.

I never used the process consistently – I’m still a bit of naughty school boy – but I use it with my daughter’s spelling tests and then let her practise on me and I make less mistakes anyway. I don’t have the fear I used to get around writing anymore.

I love teaching it because it’s so rewarding to offer someone else what I had to wait 40 years to learn.