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The Forum > Article Comments > Spelling out some problems for Gonski > Comments

Spelling out some problems for Gonski : Comments

By Chris Nugent, published 10/12/2013

Since especially the early 1980s, government literacy curricula throughout Australia have been oriented towards actually eradicating correct spelling from the testing and teaching of basic English at all levels

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Chris Nugent rightly makes a strong connection between spelling and literacy learning. As i read it, he is saying that if u know how to spell words u will be able to read them.

But he misses the even greater connection. If our words wer (sic) spelt in a regular, logical and predictable way, they would not giv many of the problems their current slackness throws at learners, who often cannot cope with them.

A regular spelling system would only require (probably in the first school year) the learning of its rules or conventions which, because of the lack of exceptions, would always apply and could be relied on.

In riting, correct spellings could be predicted; in reading, spellings would reliably indicate the correct words. This is not the present situation.

Until such time as we take steps to upgrade our spelling for it to do what it is supposed to do help the learning of literacy we will struggle with below-possible literacy levels, and spend inordinat time teaching it.
Posted by AllanJC, Tuesday, 10 December 2013 7:23:08 AM
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"Until such time as we take steps to upgrade our spelling..."

The idea has been around for a long time. Though a spoof, AllanJC, this is one example needing only ordinate time to teach:

"Simplified English Spelling

The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phased plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).

In the first year, s will be used instead of the soft c. Sertainly, sivil servants will resieve this news with joy. Also, the hard c will be replaced with k Not only will this klear up konfusion, but keypads kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome ph will be replaced by f This will make words like fotograf 20 per sent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of silent es in the languag is disgrasful, and they would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing th by z and w by v

During ze fifz year, ze unesesary o kan be dropd from vords kontaining ou and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

Ze drem vil finali kum tru."
Posted by WmTrevor, Tuesday, 10 December 2013 8:15:50 AM
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Reply to: ALLAN and TREVOR
The point I tried to make is that the official teaching of English spelling (just as it is and without changes) is the stuff that needs to be restored to literacy teaching curricula around the whole of Australia. For significantly more details on the actual ERADICATION of English spelling from Australian primary English curricula I would ask you to visit my website ( www.literacytesting.com ) .

Also, if either of you is actually interested in a serious proposition for English spelling reform, I ask you to contact me and ask for a PDF file of my paper entitled VIRTUAL PHONETICS. My email address is:
literacytesting@bigpond.com : Yours sincerely : Chris Nugent
Posted by Qurhops, Tuesday, 10 December 2013 8:43:18 AM
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...So very well done Wm Trevor...I c nuzing, I do nuzing and I no nuzing!!
Posted by diver dan, Tuesday, 10 December 2013 8:44:43 AM
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Simplified spelling is just an excuse for further dumbing down our education system. Generations of people have mastered the intricacies and oddities of English spelling, it teaches you to think, it exercises your brain (if it is taught at all, of course). As a student during the crossover from imperial to decimal measurements, and having subsequently spent time in primary classrooms I am convinced that the decimalisation of maths has led to a lowering of expectations in primary maths. Not that I am advocating a return to pounds, shilling and pence, but knowing how to add and multiply 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound before age 10, as all my contemporaries did, is streets ahead of what is required now.
Posted by Candide, Tuesday, 10 December 2013 10:11:55 AM
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Reply to CANDIDE
Actually, simplified English spelling is worse than a mere excuse: it has been an outright impossibility since at least the work of John Hart, a 16th century writer on English spelling reform. But simplified ways of actually presenting our existing spelling is not an excuse: it is a practical reality. I'll happily email my work along these lines to anyone who wants to email me on: literacytesting@bigpond.com : Some of this work can already be viewed on my not-for-profit website which is: www.literacytesting.com
Posted by Qurhops, Tuesday, 10 December 2013 10:55:33 AM
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