NLP – Neuro-linguistic programming

A neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) approach to spelling

NLP  is a technique to help individuals learn to adapt their ways of thinking, feeling and behaving to certain situations. It is used in business, life and education to allow people to change, eliminate or adopt specific behaviours.

In education, we use NLP to improve visual recall of spellings by visualising the word. We look at the shape of a word by identifying letters that are tall, or fall below the line, by focusing on the number of vowels, the colours of the vowels and consonants. We write the word in the air or with our eyes shut (children love spelling words with their eyes closed) and even reading or spelling the word backwards! With NLP we can really use all our senses. You can even integrate your taste sense by forming letters cut out of cake or out of cooked spaghetti and then eating them when you have spelt the word correctly.

Take a look at the NLP spelling table below to help you work through the spelling of ‘ought’. When your child can spell out a word backwards, she is really working hard to visualise the word, and if she can spell it correctly backwards, she will know how to spell it forwards! But even when she gets the spelling of a word correct on several occasions, remember to practise tricky words often so that they are transferred into her long-term memory.

By the way, a great mnemonic for this one is “O U Great Hairy Tiger”.


NLP Spelling


1. Look at the word.
2. Cover the word.
3. Form a mental picture.

~ ought ~


1.  Look at word – Take a pretend photo.
2.  Cover the word – Form a mental picture.
3.  Now close your eyes – Look up left and ‘see’ the word.
4.  How many letters are there? (= 5)
5.  Are there any vowels? (yes = 2: ou)
6.  What colour are the vowels? (ought)
7.  Are there more letters before / after vowel? (0-ou-3)
8.  Are there any tall letters? (yes = 2 ought )
9.  Are there any descending letters? (yes = 1 ought)
10.  Say the letters in the word out loud? (o-u-g-h-t)
11.  Can you write the word in the air?
12.  Can you write the word in joined-up writing? (ought)
13.  Spell it backwards: (t-h-g-u-o)
14.  Spell it forwards: (o-u-g-h-t)
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