Spelling should be as simple as ABC

Have you ever wondered why English spelling is so difficult?

We all know the letters of the alphabet and their classic sounds: A says “ah”, B says “buh” and so on. We even know that combinations of letters make special sounds like sh, th, and ch. There are longer combinations too like tion, ing, and ight. These combinations may even be separated from each other like the silent e rule that make the vowel long. If we have spent more time studying English then maybe we know even more spelling rules. But, if there is one thing that is true about the spelling rules in English it’s that the rules almost always have exceptions.

Here are a few examples:

  • Ch makes the same sound in church and check, but what about chameleon?
  • The silent e rule makes the vowel long like in pave and home, but not in have and some.
  • The words snow and show rhyme, but not with plow and cow. Ouch!

The fact is that English suffers from a double whammy when it comes to spelling: 1. The same letters often make different sounds, and 2. The same sounds are often spelled with different letters. This means it takes years longer to learn to read English than other languages and many years longer to learn to spell it.

The complexity of English spelling causes a number of problems:

  • It takes longer to learn to read
  • It takes much longer to learn to write
  • It makes reading and writing harder to teach
  • Those that can’t cope with the complexity become illiterate and underprivileged
  • More problems with dyslexia
  • Schooling becomes tedious and less fun for children

What if English was as easy to spell as ABC?