Second nature. No idea why but my brain seems to have a natural facility for spelling and I've always been able to spell even difficult words without having to think about them. I got into trouble for it at primary school, as the teacher set homework once a week of learning ten words for a spelling test and rather than collating a list himself, he used spelling mistakes made during the week by pupils. I never made a mistake, so he told me off for not providing a word for the list! In the end I got tired of being in trouble for something I couldn't help and deliberately mis-spelt "pneumonia", so that could be put on the list for everyone else to learn. I wasn't popular with the others in my class......
I generally have to stop and think about it - but only briefly! I'm fairly good at spelling although I have some words that I just ALWAYS spell wrong...it took me years to realise I was spelling definitely wrong! (I always had an "a" in it!)
I do not have to stop and think about these.
When I went to school (ho hum at me saying this sort of thing all the time), we were taught spelling and it was very important.
Several years after I believe they decided spelling was not so important, however even though english is not my first language, I can spell and throughout my life have not really had any problems with either spelling or the i and e combination.
It would be very difficult for the migrants who speak little or no English when they come out, to actually learn to write words like this however, as I do not think there is any "rhyme or reason" to English spelling a lot of the time.
'I before e, except after c'. Nothing difficult about it at all! Have never had a problem spelling & with all things ENGLISH study related. Got Honours in all the exams so must've done something right!
For non-ENGLISH native speakers, believe it's very hard to learn.