Turning “Demons” into “Angels”

By: Cynthia G. Oplenaria
Sumpong Elementary School,
Malaybalay City North District


The readers are warned that this article doesn’t have religious or biblical trappings as it may seem but if deals on the spelling difficulties of pupils in the classroom as experienced by teachers in their day to day work. More often than not, teachers discovered that pupils usually have difficulty in spelling correctly words such as those with “ei” and “ie” as in the words receive and receipt with that of review and interview. These and other words constantly baffled our pupils when they are to write them on paper or notebooks.

These difficulties are branded as “spelling demon”. As teacher, our main task is to turn these “demon” into “”angel”, a teacher who is successful in converting these difficulties into something that will not give the negative label of being difficult into something that will facilitate and help the pupil to spell the word correctly would be tantamount to creating an “angel” of that difficulty.

What makes them demons?  According to the Pitman College List of 120 Worst Spelling Demons (http://home.vicnet.net.au/) there were nine categories of features that make these words become problems for spellers:

1. Surplus letters that do not help to show meaning or pronunciation, and can even mislead
2. Doubled letters which cannot be predicted
3. Unpredictable spellings of vowels
4. Unpredictable spellings of consonants 
5. Misleading spellings of morphemes (units of meaning)
6. Problems in spelling unstressed vowels
7. Regular spellings when you don’t expect them.


The following are suggested strategies based on the result of the action research conducted by the writer of the article to help teacher turned the “spelling demon” into “angel”.  This article deals only with the “ei” and “ie” difficulty.

Building spelling skills: ie or ie

Spelling strategy – a famous rhyme tells when to use ie and ei- although there are exceptions.

•             Put i before e except after c
Or when sounded like a as in neighbor and weigh
                Examples: chief    field deceive receipt neigh veil
•             Here are some exceptions to the rhyme:
Either     financier    foreign   forfeit   height    heir   leisure    neither
Protein   seize   sheik    sovereign   stein    their   weird
•             The rule also does not apply when the e and i are not in the same syllable.
Examples:    de.ity       sci.ence      see.ing
 3.            The rule also does not apply when the e and i are not in the same syllable
Example:       science   seeing    deity


“There’s no harm in trying” as the saying goes. Try these rules the next time you teach spelling to your pupils and together let us forged that concerted effort of turning “demon” into “angel”.