“Sometimes the English language just doesn’t make sense!”
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. And maybe it’s even been your experience, especially with spelling. But the English language doesn’t have to be confusing. In fact, spelling can be easy. Give me a few minutes and I’ll show you how!
Many spelling programs reduce spelling down to simple repetition of lists of words that have no obvious connection to each other.
These lists often include words with different spellings of the same sound—with no explanation as to why these spellings make sense. Take a look at the spelling list below.
If your child is learning to spell with this method, he is asked to memorize a list of words through practice and repetition. After being tested on the words, he moves on to a new list of words with little connection to the previous list. But if your child is like most children, the words are not committed to long-term memory and he quickly forgets them. Perhaps you have both experienced the feelings of failure and frustration that can result from this type of learning.
Despite what you may have come to believe about the difficulties of the English language, English does conform to predictable patterns, and more importantly, those patterns can be taught to your child. There is a better—and more logical—way to learn to spell than by rote memorization of list after list of unrelated words.
…but it is a light-hearted look at how crazy English can seem when you don’t understand the logic behind it. For example, the sound of /f/ can be spelled F, FF, PH, or GH, leading to the silly pharrembar (farmer) spelling in the graphic.
Logic is my strong suit. When I’m faced with a problem, such as making sense of the English language, I try to decipher it. I look for the rationale—the relationships between the parts, the “whys.” Then I pursue an elegant solution, and that means seeking the simplest yet most effective solution I can find.
And that brings us to the All About Spelling lessons. Here are some examples of how I’ve made spelling logical:
Why is the /j/ sound in fudge spelled with DGE instead of simply J or GE? If your kids don’t know the simple reason, spelling may seem weird and confusing. This tip—and dozens of others like it—REALLY simplifies spelling and makes it more logical. Download this lesson plan to see how easily this rule can be taught.
Dozens of phonics programs teach that Silent E makes the previous vowel long, as in the word home. But that’s only part of the truth, and it doesn’t explain the Silent E in hundreds of words such as have and hinge. To make spelling logical, it’s important to teach all the jobs of Silent E. Download this lesson plan to see how we teach Silent E after a U or V, as in true and love.
With this fail-safe method, adding suffixes becomes crystal clear. Download two lessons that provide an introduction to spelling with suffixes.
The entire series uses a step-by-step approach, with each skill carefully building upon the previous ones. This allows kids to see the organized, logical patterns behind English spelling. And I took great pains to highlight the consistency of the English language. (Did you know that only 3% of English words are actually irregular, and the remaining 97% of words follows predictable patterns? It’s true!)
To prevent future butchering of this word, let your child know that we keep prefixes intact when we add them to a word. Therefore, when we combine mis + spelling, we keep both S’s: misspelling.
Since they only hear one P, they often don’t remember to add the second P. To keep the joy, explain that the second P is needed to keep the first vowel short. (Learn more about the word happy in this lesson plan.)
Did you enjoy this post? Be sure to read the whole series to learn how Spelling Can Be Easy!
Are you curious about the logic behind how a certain word is spelled? Post it in the comments below and I’ll choose a few words to analyze from your suggestions!