This week one of the students I am helping to prepare for the GED test, used a word that I did not recognize in a sentence he had written as part of an assignment. He informed that that was his best attempt at spelling the word entrepreneur. He stated that his goal was to become a successful entrepreneur and would sure like to know how to spell the word correctly. Since I could not spell the word either, we consulted the dictionary and he gained more insight into learning differences. As I searched for the word, I explained that those of use who have difficulty distinguishing the sounds in words find it difficult locating words in the dictionary. His response was, “I thought that I was the only one who had difficulty finding words in the dictionary.” As another staff member walked by, I asked him if he knew how to spell the word entrepreneur. He gave it a try and although his spelling was not correct, it was close enough for me to find entrepreneur in the dictionary. So what do we do when we have difficulty finding words in the dictionary? We need to collect the words that we do not know and ask someone who is a better speller to assist us!
The Mnemonic Clue
The memory technique for the spelling of entrepreneur is a stack. For those of you who are good spellers, stacks probably don’t make much sense. Why would a word, stacked into parts that are not necessarily syllables, help with spelling. Not all words stack well. Some word-stacks work well for some students but are meaningless to others. Here is the stack for entrepreneur. It works for me and for my student!
t r e
p r e
n e u r
The stack is memorable because the four “e”s line up. For those who are more into patterns, the en and ne provide a mirror image, the tre and pre and similar, and the ur is an additional mnemonic clue in the statement u r (you are) an entrepreneur.
Richard Cooper, Ph.D.
Center for Alternative Learning