English spelling reform? A waste of time

English spelling reform? A waste of time

Nathaniel Swain
The Conversation 2 March 2015

My 11-year-old student sighs. How can the same letters make so many different sounds? We are looking at the letter combination “ough”. which can be read in seven different ways: “through”, “thorough”, “although”, “plough”, “thought”, “cough” and “rough”.

Certain movements around the English-speaking world think our spelling system is just too difficult. In the UK, the English Spelling Society has renewed calls for spelling reform. They want to change words with extraneous letters and make it easier to spell.

The society proposes spellings like “wensday”, “crum”, “cof”, “distres” and “milenium”. For some, including me, these suggestions produce a visceral reaction; others may see this as progress.

Find out why this is a waste of time that won't improve kids' literacy skills.