RtR #1 Lost for Words

In the Read the Research series, I’m putting together bite-sized overviews of new research, aimed at practitioners and researchers working with young people on language, literacy, and learning.

Winstanley et al. (2019)

A very accomplished colleague of mine from the UK (Dr Maxine Winstanley) has just published new research with her UK colleagues.

Maxine had a career as a police officer before training as a speech-language pathologist and undertaking a PhD. Like me, she was shocked by the high rates of communication difficulties in youth justice. Around 50-60% of young people in contact with the justice system have Development Language Disorder - this is a condition where people have severe difficulties understanding or expressing themselves using spoken language.

This new paper is based on her work with young people in the north of England – mostly as they first make contact with the youth justice system. Here’s a brief overview, relevant for all working (or interested) in the youth justice space.

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.