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The English spelling system - is it time for change?

by: Marilyn Owen (21 January 2015)

The English Spelling Society is bidding to reform English spelling, saying it causes delays in children’s education. It’s an old theme and the society probably won’t be going away any time soon.

The English Spelling Society aims to improve English spelling and considers that it is time to change and simplify the way we spell words. We may ask why English spelling should need to be improved – after all, it has stood the test of time and most people manage to master it.

The difficulties in English spelling

However, The English Spelling Society argues that our spelling system is the most difficult in the world to master. This is because the sounds are not always represented by their corresponding letters – for example, the word-final silent letters of “mb” in “lamb” or “thumb”, and the so-called “magic e” in “cake” or “save”. The Society says that English “has many different ways of representing the same sound” and that it has “some letter combinations that represent more than one sound”.

The effect on English children’s mastery of English spelling

Consequently, English schoolchildren take up to three years longer to master their own spelling system than do children of other nationalities, which the society says is a massive burden on the educational budget. Furthermore, the difficulty in learning irregular spellings increases in the case of those who have dyslexia. Adding that 23 per cent of children never master spelling at all, they suggest that the spelling system should be simplified.

Of course, many people do have problems with spelling, which is why it is important to use reliable proofreading services when writing important documents. For help with proofreading just visit www.writeitclearly.com.

The conclusion is that our children do have a massive job of memorisation and that maybe it would be a good idea if we changed to “something more predictable”.

So is it time to change our spelling system?

Many of us do not agree that our spelling system should be changed and say that it has worked for centuries. Personally, I think that if children read widely, they will learn to recognise spellings. I don’t want to see any such changes introduced, but I do acknowledge that the irregularities in our language pose difficulties for many children and adults, in particular dyslexics, for whom early intervention is crucial.

Therefore, just leave our beautiful language intact in all its idiosyncrasies. That is my opinion, but it would be interesting to hear what others have to say on the subject.


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Ref: 148 Emphatically, no, do not change English spelling. These people would have us all spelling like texters.
Garry - 15:29 22-01-2015

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