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English spelling

Misspellings abound in signs, ads, and menus around the Dallas area, and around your area too, I bet. They even appear on national news and TV once in a while. The newspaper story has the educators’ opinion on why this is:

"Educators say these bungled words are a symptom of a deeper problem: Students aren’t learning grammar."

Isn’t it interesting that the problem is the students, and not the educators? I think students learn what a good educator teaches them, and the fact that this is a national, ever- increasing problem, says to me that the educators aren’t teaching grammar … well. It is most likely a symptom of a deeper problem … prospective educators in teacher training colleges aren’t being taught how to teach grammar. Just ask the late great Richard Mitchell, who became famous pointing out the slovenly grammar of university bureaucrats, who were supposed to be educated enough to know better.

But don’t worry. The United Kingdom’s Spelling Society has the solution: they just this week launched a campaign to liberate the spelling of English words. You see, English literacy is in decline because learning proper spelling places too great a burden on school children. In this case, it’s not the children’s fault they can’t spell, and it isn’t the teachers’ fault, either. It’s that dastardly English language’s fault!

In fact, it is a common misconception that English contains too many irregularities in order to learn to spell well. Margaret Bishop, author of The ABCs and All Their Tricks, explains that English seems irregular at times because some of the language’s words are from Latin roots, and some are from Anglo (Germanic) roots. The key is learning which is which. One set of rules governs English words of Latin origin, and one set of rules governs English words of Anglo origin, and presto! English spelling magically regularizes.

It is a pity that the president of UK’s Spelling Society doesn’t know that. Nor the vast majority of teacher training colleges. But if you and your students study Mrs. Bishop’s book, you will. 🙂

One thought on “English spelling

  1. We have a jar with quarters, and when a child finds a sign or book or other example of bad grammar, they get to collect a quarter. 🙂

    Thanks for this great post!

    (P.S. Can't wait for Revelation! Love your posts!)

    ~Anne

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