The problem of English spelling
English grammar and punctuation are relatively easy. But English spelling is quite the reverse - probably the most irregular of all alphabetic systems. Not only can you not tell how to spell a word from hearing it spoken; you can’t even be sure how a word is spoken from the written word – a unique “double whammy”.
The reasons for this irregularity are complex and largely historical. But the economic and social costs are serious. English speaking children take on average three years longer to learn to read and write than others and some never succeed. Our dyslexics struggle in a way that Italian and Spanish children do not. Adult illiteracy remains stubbornly high (23%).
The English Spelling Society tries to address these problems by:
- Raising awareness and researching the costs of English spelling.
- Assessing the effectiveness of the various educational schemes for teaching spelling to children.
- Offering its own solutions to those are struggling with spelling.
- Seeking to open minds to the possibility of an eventual reform of English spelling in the interests of improved literacy.