MUSP:  the Multi-sensory Spelling Programme for Priority Words


We are extremely grateful to Jenny Lee for allowing us to include a slightly modified version of her spelling programme on this website. We have changed it so that you can work through it on your own - you'll need a tape recorder. If you have someone to help you with testing, that will be useful. 


The programme is four weeks long during which time you concentrate on learning between five and 15 words that you use regularly but usually spell them wrongly. The programme uses learning strategies that we know work for dyslexic people:

-          using all your senses – 'multi-sensory learning'

-          going back over what you've learnt – 'overlearning'

-          breaking down the tasks – 'chunking'


But, as with many strategies we've introduced in the book, you can adapt the programme to suit you. However, we do suggest that for your first list of words, you follow the programme as Jenny has written it.





The programme explains how to learn the words you need in a systematic way, so that they are retained in your long-term memory. In other words, you can always remember how to spell them. You will only need a short time each week and the end result is wonderful. And it will do wonders for your confidence too.


What to do



1. Choose a list of between five and 15 words that you need to spell, for instance:

words you need for your work

words you need for your hobbies

words from forms you need to use

words you need in letters you write

words you need for study


2. Write them in a safe place in an exercise book or file. Label them List A and date the list.


3. Write the words on the left hand side of the page, in joined up writing. Leave a line between each word so that it stands out clearly.  On the right hand side of the page, you are going to print the word showing the strategy you've chosen. Now you need to choose the strategy. We've given you some idea in Chapter 6 and Spelling strategies .


(i)        Strategies must be multi-sensory - seeing, hearing and feeling.

(ii)      They must address the bits of the word you are having difficulties with. You don't have to learn the bits you can remember! Here are some examples:



perma frost at Nent Head


1 collar and 2 socks (1c & 2s's)


arch  i   tect

(You associate arches with people who design buildings and then you say it to yourself as it's spelt.)


sol   ICI  tor

(Note the symmetrical pattern. You can remember ICI in the middle and then put the rest around it – vowels are both o's.)


op  port   unity

(Split up the double consonants auditorally and visually.  So you hear the p twice and you also see it twice. Find hidden words, in this case there are three.)


q   ue  ue 

(Say it in rhythm - Q, yooee! yooee!)


spec    if    ic


Say 'always one flagpole' (one 'l').


... get the idea?


On a piece of spare paper, fiddle about with a few strategies until you find one that clicks for you.


Important - once you've decided on a strategy, you must stick to it for the whole programme. If you don't, then you will have difficulty learning the spelling.


If you are working with a tutor they will probably have to suggest strategies to start with, but gradually you'll take over because you know which ones work best for you.


4. Now use the LOOK, SAY, ...COVER, PICTURE  AND SAY,... WRITE, SAY, ...CHECK method to practise each word. Click to get a summary document to print.


Use your list to:

a)     LOOK at the word and study the strategy carefully.

SAY the word then say the strategy. You must say them out loud.


b)    COVER the word and the strategy.

SAY the word, and then say the strategy.

PICTURE each bit of the strategy in your mind's eye as you say it. While you are doing this try spelling a middle or end chunk or spelling the word forwards or even backwards by reading it off from your mind's eye image. You'll need someone around to check that you've got it right, or you could use a tape recorder.


c)     WRITE the word as a whole word, in joined-up writing.

But remember to SAY the strategy as you write it - tell your hand what to write.


d)     CHECK the word letter by letter to see if it's right.


Don't leave out any stage. Stage 4b is particularly important.


Always practise using joined-up writing;

it develops your motor (muscle) memory.


During the following week  Practise spelling a word at least a couple of times using the 'Look, Say, ... Cover, Picture and Say, ... Write, Say, ... Check' method.





1.    Go over each word and relearn each word and its strategy as you did last week. Always use the above method exactly. Don't be tempted to use short cuts!


2.    Test yourself by using your tape recorder. Record all the words, then one at a time you play the word, you repeat the word, then say the strategy picturing each bit in your mind's eye as you say it.  Write the word, saying the strategy as you write it. You may be able to get someone to help instead of using the tape recorder.                             


Don't write the word until you can think of the strategy.  If you've forgotten, look at the word and say - that's  'not cheating but learning'.

3.    Now you look at the words you've written down. Without the original list proof-read it for errors. Do this by saying the strategy and look at what you have written. Have you written what the strategy indicates?

4.    Only then should you look at the original word and mark your spelling.

During the week - yes, you've guessed it - practise using the above Look, Say,… Cover, Picture & Say,.. Write, Say, ... Check method.

The steps in Week 2 can be repeated in the following weeks for as often as necessary.



Ask someone to test you 'cold' without looking first at the list. Or use the list of words on your tape recorder. Use the method described in week 2, stages 2,3 and 4. Remember- You must proof-read first, then check with original.

During the week - practise using the same Look, Say…Cover, Picture and Say… Write, Say… Check method.



1.   Here you will probably need help. You need someone to dictate the words you've learnt by putting them into sentences.  They say a sentence, you repeat it, write it and proof-read it.  Again you can use your tape recorder if you are working on your own.

2.  Start List B - choose new words that have cropped up at work, home or college and add any words that you're not quite sure of from list A.  Use exactly the same system for learning this new list.



Keep a copy of each list and the strategies used. Also keep a record of which list you're working on and what week of the list. For example:


7th Oct

Start List A

14th Oct

List A (Week 2)

28th Oct

List A  (Week 3)

4th Nov

Dictate List A and start List B

Each list should be learned over a minimum of four weeks, longer if necessary, even if you think you are confident with the words.

After about two to three months, whilst learning a new list, you should relearn an earlier list and be tested on both.  (Keep records of which lists have been relearned and when.)

All old lists need to be regularly revised, about two to three months after they were first learnt. This will not take as long as it did to learn them. This method really works.  You'll find you can spell the words you need surprisingly quickly - and you won't forget them!


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