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'igh' and 'ight' words in English

Updated: May 5, 2022

How to teach igh words

The letters igh in English make the long ‘i’ sound when used together (a trigraph).

It sounds simple, but learners can have difficulty learning to spell igh words for a number of reasons. This might be because they:

  • They are a young learner in reception (kindergarten), or key stages 1 and 2

  • They have additional learning needs, such as dyslexia which affects working memory or recall

  • They are learning English as a second language.

Whatever the reason, there is a useful technique to help all learners to spell ‘igh’ and ‘ight’ words.

How to spell igh words

Coupling igh words with relevant pictures and short phrases can really help learners to remember the spellings.

It’s important when using this technique that the word being learnt, is the first word in the particular phrase being taught. This helps learners to quickly recall the phrase from a catalogue of phrases that can be built up over time.

For example, to teach the ‘igh’ word ‘flight’, students can learn the phrase:

  • Flight leaves in great hurry tonight

Flight - Flight leaves in great hurry tonight

Light - Light is guiding home Tim

Knight - Knight nervous in great honourable tournament

Night - Night is good hunting time

Fight - fight in girls house tonight

High - High in gigantic hotel

Sight - sight is going. Help, Tom!

These phrases should be repeated a number of times until they can be recalled instantly.

It’s important to realise that this technique is only part of the learning process. Although learners will remember the spellings by rote (memory), this technique does not help them to understand the rules of spelling in English.

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