Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Poor Reading Related to Bad English Spelling, Study Says

"Don’t blame kids for having a hard time reading. Blame the English spelling system, says a new study.

Words like foreign, rhinoceros, vomit, tourist, heaven, spinach, ghastly, and tongue are among a long list of words that confuse children because they contain letter combinations that are more commonly pronounced in different ways..."

Read the rest in School Library Journal.


Eileen said...

Yeah, whatever.

(To the study's conclusions, MacBeth, not you!!)

My daughter is a superb reader at 8years old -- she started her sight vocabulary at age two and was reading fluently at age 4 -- and she can't spell worth a darn. She's a wiz at applying phonics to correctly pronounce high-school level vocabulary (though no, she's not reading at that level).

I'm drawing the conclusion that they are different brain functions, like speaking and understanding. Having two bright little boys with significant speech delays, I can tell you they are not the same thing. Being good at one is often paired with being good at the other, but I'm thinking that it's not a causal relationship.

Obviously not, in my children's case, anyway!

Just my two cents, I guess.

I'm trying to find a way to help my daughter improve her spelling by relying more directly on her reading skills -- spell the sound you hear, then read what you wrote to see if it "looks" right. That, and encouraging more spontaneous writing -- I really haven't done that yet. Sadly, so far, that's all I got, since other spelling approaches haven't made much of a dent!!!

We'll see if it goes anywhere!!

MacBeth Derham said...

Thanks for the comment (and the disclaimer) Eileen! I totally agree with your, "whatever"!!

I find studies like this to be more interesting for the debates they spark than for the results they sell.

I am not a great speller, though I have been reading since age 3. My two oldest and my youngest are natural spellers. My middle delight is not a good speller at all, though she reads beautifully. My youngest rarely reads unassigned work. I see no connection whatsoever between reading and spelling. None.

Here's a funny thing, though: The words the study claims are the culprits are all words I spell easily!! It's regular words that follow the rules that stump me, every time, LOL!!

Spelling is a funny thing, but to relate it directly to reading is a bit of a stretch. It's just one of those "brain function" things that you cite as being unconnected. Perhaps the result of this study is a coincidence.

The thought of changing English spellings to accommodate poor spellers seems wrong to me. Anytime we change language to make it easier (inflammable has been changed to flammable, for instance) we lose something of our rich linguistic heritage--and that heritage becomes irreplaceable very quickly, with words called "obscure" by the dictionary becoming impossible to resurrect.

BTW, there were a total of 14 misspelled words in my comment here! I love spell-checkers!