Dutch bisyllabic words containing open and closed syllables are particularly difficult to spell for children. What kind of support in spelling exercises improves the spelling of these words the most? Two extensions of a commonly used dictation exercise were tested: less skilled spellers in grade 2 (n=50; 7 years and 10 months) either received explicit syllabic segmentation cues or received spelling cues by means of a visual preview. Comparisons between pre-, post-, and retention tests of spelling skill showed that extra syllabic cues did not show a significant improvement beyond normal spelling dictation and that visual preview was most effective as compared to the other types of training. The findings suggest that word-specific knowledge can effectively be improved by exposure to the correct letter pattern during exercises in spelling and seems to result in lasting improvement of word-specific orthographic representations, at least for 5 weeks. © The International Dyslexia Association 2008.