International English Spelling Congress

The English Spelling Society in partnership with the American Literacy Council has sponsored an International English Spelling Congress. Its purpose was to reach broad agreement on an updated English spelling system, to be used as an alternative to Traditional English Spelling – informally at first but in the hope that its merits would come to be recognised and accepted worldwide. The initial session of the Congress was held on 30 May 2018. The final session of the Congress was held on 28 January 2021. Watch it on YouTube.

If you are not familiar with the rationale for updating English spelling, please see other pages on this website. The Frequently Asked Questions is particularly recommended.

The Vote

Congress participants voted in 2021 to choose one of the six shortlisted schemes.  As announced on 21 April of that year, the preferred choice was Traditional Spelling Revised (TSR). See the Press Release. Download the Report of Voting as prepared by Civica Election Services.

Following a period of further consultation, the Committee of the Society has decided to offer a degree of support for the wider dissemination of TSR. This support is conditional and time limited. Specifically:

  • The debate on acceptable alternatives to traditional spelling is not closed. The Society's website (Personal View Section) will remain open for members wishing to submit their own schemes for peer review and more general comment.
  • The Committee's support for TSR will be reviewed after 5 years to assess the degree to which the Scheme has become acceptable within the English Speaking World.
  • Any financial support for publicising or otherwise assisting in the dissemination of TSR will be modest.


TSR is a relatively conservative scheme which only changes spellings where absolutely necessary and consequently makes fewer respellings than with many other alternative proposals. Features include:

  • Removal of redundant letters.
  • Removal of ambiguity for the letter combinations that can currently represent more than one sound.
  • Applying more consistently the underlying rules of current spelling (especially the so-called Magic E and Doubling Rules).
  • Retaining only a few of the current irregular spellings so that these can be memorised fairly easily.

Despite its conservative nature, TSR claims  signficant improvement in the predictability of English spelling and consequently the potential for better access to literacy.

The other shortlisted schemes presented to the Congress were


A Simple Phonetic Respelling for the English Language. Proposed by Christian Siefkes.


A spelling system for English that is simple and phonetic. Proposed by J D Garcia.


Provides a predictable spelling scheme for words in the English language. Proposed by Richard Kilner.


Offers a simple way to transform English spelling into a logical system that is easy and quick to learn. Proposed by Richard Kilner.


A reform spelling system that makes English spelling simple and regular, while preserving continuity from traditional spelling. Proposed by Mark Petersen et al.

Details of these 5 schemes can be viewed here.

Publications / IESC Papers / TSR Publications



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IESC Detailed Plans

What has happened so far, and what is coming next.