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Why learning to read English is exceptionally difficult

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by mashabell, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. I had posted this on Primary, but someone who calls herself Maizie and is a secondary SEN teacher suggested I should post it on here instead. I am not sure that many early years teachers will find it useful because I believe that the early stage of learning to read deals mainly with phonically reliable graphemes, but perhaps I am wrong.


    <font size="3" face="Calibri">Learning to read English is much harder than in other languages with
    alphabetic writing systems because of the way English is spelt. </font>If English spelling was like other European writing systems,
    it would have around 50 spellings, something like the following 43 with a few
    extras, and they would all spell just one sound:


    a,
    ai, air,
    ar, aw, b,
    ch, d, e,
    ee, er, f,
    g, h, i,
    ie, j, k, l,
    m, n, ng,
    o, oa, oi,
    oo, oo, or,
    ou, p, r,
    s, sh, -si- (vision), t,
    th, th, u,
    u-e, v-, w,
    x, z .


    <font size="3" face="Calibri">English has 164 main spellings and also another 33 which are used in
    only 5 words or less. Some don&rsquo;t involve extra learning for reading (e.g. &ndash;er,
    -or, -ar endings). But in the course of learning to read, children have to
    learn to decode the following 123, and
    69
    of those have more than one pronunciation:</font>
    a, -able,
    a-e, ai,
    air, al, all, ar, are, -ary, -ate, au, -augh,
    aw, -ay, b, ca/o/ut,
    cc, ce/i, ch, -cial, -ck,
    -cy, d, -dge,

    ee, e-e, eigh,
    eig,
    eir,
    er, ere, eo, -et, eu, ew, -ey,
    f, ga/go/gu, ge-/gi,
    -ge, gn,
    h, i, -i, -ible,
    ie, i-e, -ie,
    -igh, ir,
    is,


    j,
    k, kn, l,
    le, m, mb, mn, n, ng,


    o, -o, oa, oar, o-e, -oe, oi, ol, oo,


    -oor, or, ore, ou, ough,
    oul, our, ow,
    oy,


    p, ph, qu, qua, quar, r,
    -re, rh, s, sc, -se, sh, -sion,
    -ssion, -sure,



    t, -tch, th, -tion,
    -ture, u,
    u-e,
    -ue, ur,


    v-,
    -ve, w, wa, war, wh, wo, wor, wr,
    y-, -y, --y, y-e, z .


    Examples of the variant sounds for the spellings in bold can be seen at
    http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2009/12/reading-problems.html

     
  2. I had posted this on Primary, but someone who calls herself Maizie and is a secondary SEN teacher suggested I should post it on here instead. I am not sure that many early years teachers will find it useful because I believe that the early stage of learning to read deals mainly with phonically reliable graphemes, but perhaps I am wrong.


    <font size="3" face="Calibri">Learning to read English is much harder than in other languages with
    alphabetic writing systems because of the way English is spelt. </font>If English spelling was like other European writing systems,
    it would have around 50 spellings, something like the following 43 with a few
    extras, and they would all spell just one sound:


    a,
    ai, air,
    ar, aw, b,
    ch, d, e,
    ee, er, f,
    g, h, i,
    ie, j, k, l,
    m, n, ng,
    o, oa, oi,
    oo, oo, or,
    ou, p, r,
    s, sh, -si- (vision), t,
    th, th, u,
    u-e, v-, w,
    x, z .


    <font size="3" face="Calibri">English has 164 main spellings and also another 33 which are used in
    only 5 words or less. Some don&rsquo;t involve extra learning for reading (e.g. &ndash;er,
    -or, -ar endings). But in the course of learning to read, children have to
    learn to decode the following 123, and
    69
    of those have more than one pronunciation:</font>
    a, -able,
    a-e, ai,
    air, al, all, ar, are, -ary, -ate, au, -augh,
    aw, -ay, b, ca/o/ut,
    cc, ce/i, ch, -cial, -ck,
    -cy, d, -dge,

    ee, e-e, eigh,
    eig,
    eir,
    er, ere, eo, -et, eu, ew, -ey,
    f, ga/go/gu, ge-/gi,
    -ge, gn,
    h, i, -i, -ible,
    ie, i-e, -ie,
    -igh, ir,
    is,


    j,
    k, kn, l,
    le, m, mb, mn, n, ng,


    o, -o, oa, oar, o-e, -oe, oi, ol, oo,


    -oor, or, ore, ou, ough,
    oul, our, ow,
    oy,


    p, ph, qu, qua, quar, r,
    -re, rh, s, sc, -se, sh, -sion,
    -ssion, -sure,



    t, -tch, th, -tion,
    -ture, u,
    u-e,
    -ue, ur,


    v-,
    -ve, w, wa, war, wh, wo, wor, wr,
    y-, -y, --y, y-e, z .


    Examples of the variant sounds for the spellings in bold can be seen at
    http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2009/12/reading-problems.html

     
  3. It's still twaddle wherever you post it Masha.
     
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    yes you are
    although many of the "spelling" patterns you list aren't taught as phoneme /grapheme representations
     
  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    OMG. Not on this forum too!
     
  6. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    There aren't many places Masha won't go ... oh doctor I have an ingrowing toenail ...that's because U are trying to learn to read English ...my husband ran off with our Swedish masseur ... that's because learning to read in English is so difficult ... the continuing use of Imperial measurements is confusing children ... that's because we need to change English spellings!
     
  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Has she found her way to Health and Wellbeing yet? I think I am off over there now because she is giving me a terrible dose of Traumatic repetitivestress list abhorrenceitis.
     
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I think U will find the cure for everything is spelling reform!
     
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Well, I have posted my thread there and await help.
     
  10. Sorry to inflict her on you guys, but I thought that as you EY folk are the most involved with teaching reading you might be able to convince her that learning to read English is not exceptionally difficult.
     
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    but we are the same people she ignores on opinion ... we teach children to read and write but we can't teach Masha to listen
     
  12. I'm afraid I didn't notice many EY people on the Opinion thread. [​IMG]
     
  13. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    That's because we've given up the will to face the endless lists.
     
  14. What if we/I were to start a new thread asking 'Who agrees with masha that learning to read English is exceptionally difficult?' Perhaps a few non 'Opinion' posters would respond.
     
  15. I wish people would not be so intolerant of mashabell.
    She is right that the English alphabetic code is complex - even though we suggest that she needs to understand more about modern synthetic phonics teaching, and that she needs to organise her words in ways which are precisely that - organised.
    However, look at what she lists and consider that for many years infant and primary schools have not done the most organised teaching of the alphabetic code. It's only in more recent years that teachers are beginning to get to grips with the notion of 'the alphabetic code'.
    I am also finding many people who don't even want or appreciate the value of the alphabetic code in an organised way such as I am suggesting with the 'alphabetic code chart' as a feature of teacher-training and available as core support chart in every classroom.
    I am finding key stage two teachers who do not want, or understand the importance, of building on the phonics in key stage one to continue it for spelling in year two -even at high levels.
    In other words, I am saying that there are many people with all sorts of different views and levels of understanding our complex English alphabetic code.
    Masha serves to highlight its complexities - but then, as teachers, we need to focus on how best to teach those complexities - in an organised way and not as thousands of random words.
     
  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    With all due respect, may I suggest that the intolerance is generated by masha's incessant repetition of the same thesis and her reluctance to answer valid questions asked of her.
     
  17. It's not such much intolerance, Debbie, as frustration that she goes way over the top with her assertions; her 'research' isn't always very sound (when I followed up a couple of references she gave me I found that they said nothing like what she was claiming they did) and her knowledge of teaching reading is out of date and ill informed.
     
  18. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    I bet if you asked around you would find that by now frustration has reached screaming point and has morphed into intolerance.
     
  19. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I am allergic to hazelnuts.
    Debbie, I've been stingy and have never signed up for Phonicsinternational as I'm not school-based. Maybe it has the answer to my current puzzle.
    Does it suggest a teaching order for spelling alternatives for sounds - I'm not thinking here about learning to read, but about learning to spell upper KS1 onwards through KS2 and KS3? And do the word lists that I suppose are contained within it explain some patterns (e.g.mostly when to use c or k at the beginning of words, and mostly when to use c, k or ck at the end of words). And is it pretty comprehensive in its coverage of all phonemes and all associated graphemes?
     
  20. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    That's really bad luck!
     

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