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Difficult Spelling Words

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When learning difficult spelling words seems like a long, uphill climb, remember that we're here to help!

One set of particularly difficult words are those that are spelled with the ei or ie vowel combination.  We've compiled a printable list of 285 for you study.   Some words on the list are useful for elementary students, others are appropriate for high school students, ESL students and adults.

Our step-by-step spelling lesson plans will help you master these tricky spelling words.  See more ideas, and links to more word lists, at the bottom of the page.

Get your printable list of these difficult spelling words.

list of difficult spelling words - ie/ei
list of difficult spelling words - ie/ei

Additional Lists of Difficult Spelling Words:

For some really tough spelling words, we have a list of 100 Difficult Spelling Words for Spelling Bee Officials.  This resource is now available in two volumes. We've included the pronunciation, definition, part of speech, etymology and a sentence for each word. If you're having a serious competition, these lists are for you!

Spelling Bee Words List with pronunciations and meanings from www.spelling-words-well.com

NEW! Spelling Bee Words List - 25 Challenging Spelling Bee Words with Pronunciations and Meanings! Teachers, use these for classroom warm-ups or competitions. Students, learn these before your next competition! 

You may also enjoy this list of 50 Hard Spelling Bee Words and Definitions. This is required learning for anyone who wants to excel in an upper grade spelling competition. Please take time to learn the word meanings, along with the spellings!

Spelling Lessons

teacher and upper grade students seated at table

Step-By-Step Spelling Lesson Plans - Here's a very methodical way  to teach, or learn, those tricky IE/EI words. Great for ESL students, upper elementary students, or adults. You can use every step of this lesson, or just the ones that you need. This free printable lesson includes a link to big list of IE/EI words for extra study and practice.

Step-by-Step Lesson - This lesson methodically teaches when to double, and when not to double, the final consonant when adding suffixes. 

Tips for Learning Difficult Words

  • Glance over the list to find words that you use frequently. Make sure you know how to spell those words first. 
  • Keep a list of your most troublesome words on the fridge or write them on the outside of a folder. Review them frequently.
  • Ask a friend to quiz you occasionally.
  • Use the words in your written documents. Practice a lot!
  • Use our Step-By Step Lesson plan for mastering these ie/ei words. The lesson is adaptable for grades 5 and up, including ESL students and adults.

Teachers: Adapt the lesson for seat work, board work or homework.  

All students, (including ESL) and adults: Print out the list to use it and review it frequently. Just looking at the words will help you remember how the words should appear. Then when you write them incorrectly, they just might look funny to you.

Other Resources:

As student learn difficult words, make sure they know how to use them correctly. We have lots of fun spelling practice ideas, as well as spelling word games and spelling worksheets.

Be sure to try new ideas and share the ones that work best with other students, parents and teachers.

bee surrounded by letters SPELLING

Did you know one of the best motivations for students to boost their spelling skills? It's called a SPELLING BEE! We have a huge set of resources to make your next classroom competition a success!


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Think a Spell brain teaser eBook

Think-A-Spell! A fun collection of brain teasers and spelling challenges. Best for ages 10 to adult. 

Anyword Spelling Practice eBooks from www.spelling-words-well.com

AnyWord Spelling Practice Series   Fun Worksheets, games & prompts that work with almost ANY spelling words!

Gigantic 78 cover 275 px

Gigantic Spelling Bee Word Lists with definitions, sentences and languages

Spelling Bee Toolbox Gr 35 cover 275 px

Spelling Bee Toolboxes for Grades 3/5 and 6/8   All the resources you need for a successful bee! 

monumental grade 56 cover 275px

Monumental Spelling Bee Word Lists for grades 3/4, 5/6 and 7/8 with definitions, sentences and languages

mammoth grade 34 cover 275 px

Mammoth Spelling Bee Word Lists  for grades 3/4, 5/6 and 7/8  with sentences, definitions, and languages

Young Spellers cover 275 px

Young Spellers Spelling Bee Word List for Grades 1 & 2 only 

100 Diff Words Vol 1 275 px

100 Difficult Spelling Bee Words with Definitions, Sentences and Pronunciations, Volumes 1 and 2

600 Spelling Bee Words & Sentences

600 Spelling Bee Words & Sentences for Gr 3/5 & 6/8 Extra words & sentences at two levels

101 Word Play Puzzlers 275 px

101 Word Play Puzzlers   Discover the FUN of letters & words as you solve each unique puzzle. Great vocabulary & spelling practice!