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The bulk of the children pass through the government schools without learning to read and spell tolerably. They might learn in one year and with real advantage to themselves what they now require four or five years to learn and seldom succeed in learning after all." - MAX MÜLLER.
METHODS of teaching reading have greatly improved since Max Müller wrote the words quoted above. Nevertheless, even now learning to spell is a far longer process for the English child than for children in many other countries, such as Germany, Italy, and Finland, and even the native children of the Gold Coast and various other parts of Africa.

The difference is not to be explained by assuming inferiority on the part of English teachers. It is due to the unphonetic character of English spelling. The spelling of German, Italian, and Finnish is fairly phonetic, while the new orthographies of Fante, Twi, Ewe and a number of other African languages are completely so.

If we consider the short school life of the majority of our children, the time given to spelling is seen to take up an inordinately large share of it. Even so, complaints are often made of the ignorance of the "finished product" of the elementary schools.

The conviction is gaining ground that our early teaching has been too bookish. We want to give our children more manual work, more opportunities of observing nature and of exercising their bodies. We may well be envious of teachers in various other countries, who have so much more time for attaining these objects.

The saving of time would be still more marked in the teaching of the defective. Our present spelling gravely hampers the efforts of those who devote themselves to the education of the blind and of the deaf and dumb.

A rational spelling would, moreover, materially facilitate the task of those to whom English is a foreign tongue. If our present spelling is difficult to acquire for those familiar with the spoken language, it is very much harder for those ignorant of it.

The school life of our elementary school children is all too short. It will no doubt be prolonged in due course. But even when this desirable step has been taken, there is no reason why any of the pupils' time should be wasted. If 1,000 hours of their time could be saved, they would leave school much better prepared for their life's work, whatever the length of their education.

It is not only the actual learning of spelling that takes up so much time; spelling mistakes are made, and have to be corrected, in all the written work throughout the school. This leads to loss of time, to say nothing of loss of temper.

It is sometimes suggested that spelling can and should be learnt incidentally; that much reading will lead to good spelling. Experience shows that in a badly spelt language this is not the case. Dr. Wallin in his monograph on Spelling Efficiency has shown, as the result of experiments, that the systematic memorizing of lists of words will alone produce the perfect speller; and there are many instances of good readers who spell badly. When the spelling is rational, the conditions are different; the process of learning to read does not entail this memorizing, which takes up so much time without any corresponding gain.

We hear a good deal nowadays about the deterioration of spelling; it has been suggested that more time should be given to it in our schools. As long as mechanical accuracy was one of the great aims of the teaching, it was possible to produce the perfect speller. Teachers are beginning to study the child mind more thoroughly; they shrink from all unreasonable exercise of their authority. Mechanical memorizing is repulsive to them. In these circumstances the perfect speller cannot be produced; but the remedy is not to take up still more of the child's valuable education-time for this purpose, but to adopt a rational spelling that can be learnt quickly and in a reasonable way.
"It is significant of much that, though the most conservative class in the community is acutely conscious of the thousand difficulties in the way, teachers as a body are cordially with the Spelling Reformers. And why? They, above all other persons interested, know the misery and travail involved in the attempt to teach the bewildering collocation of contradictions and conundrums miscalled our system of spelling." - DR. THOMAS MACNAMARA.
First published, 1913. Re-issued, 1941.



"Dhe bulk ov dhe children paas thruu dhe guvernment skuulz widhout lurning to reed and spel tolerably. Dhae miet lurn in wun yeer and widh real advaantej to dhemselvz whot dhae nou rekwier for or fiev yeerz to lurn and seldom sukseed in lurning aafter aul." - MAX MÜLLER.
METHODZ ov teeching reeding hav graevly impruuvd sins Max Müller roet dhe wurdz kwoeted abuv. Neverdheles, eeven nou lurning to spel iz a far longger proeses for dhe Inglish chield dhan for children in meny udher kuntriz, such az Jurmany, Italy and Finland, and eeven dhe naetiv children ov dhe Goeld Koest and vaeryus udher parts ov Afrika.

Dhe diferens iz not to be eksplaend bie asueming infeeryorrity on dhe part ov Inglish teecherz. It iz due to dhe unfonetik karrakter ov Inglish speling. Dhe speling ov Jurman, Italyan and Finish iz faerly fonetik, whiel dhe nue orthografiz ov Fante, Twi, Ewe and a number ov udher Afrikan langgwejez ar kompleetly soe.

If we konsider dhe short skuul lief ov dhe majorrity ov our children, dhe tiem given to speling iz seen to taek up an inordinetly larj shaer ov it. Eeven soe, komplaents ar ofen maed ov dhe ignorans ov dhe "finisht produkt" ov dhe elementary skuulz.

Dhe konvikshon iz gaening ground dhat our urly teeching haz been tuu bookish. We wont to giv our children mor manueal wurk, mor oportuenitiz ov obzurving naetuer and ov eksersiezing dhaer bodiz. We mae wel be envyus ov teecherz in vaeryus udher kuntriz, huu hav soe much mor tiem for ataening dheez objekts.

Dhe saeving ov tiem wood be stil mor markt in dhe teeching ov dhe defektiv. Our prezent speling graevly hamperz dhe eforts ov dhoez huu devoet dhemselvz to dhe eduekaeshon ov dhe bliend and ov dhe def and dum.

A rashonal speling wood, moroever, mateeryaly fasilitaet dhe taask ov dhoez to huum Inglish iz a forren tung. If our prezent speling iz difikult to akwier for dhoez familyar widh dhe spoeken langgwej, it iz very much harder for dhoez ignorant ov it.

Dhe skuul lief ov our elementary skuul children iz aul tuu short. It wil noe dout be prolongd in due kors. But eeven when dhis dezierabl step haz been taeken, dhaer iz noe reezon whie eny ov dhe pueplz' tiem shood be waested. If 1,000 ourz ov dhaer tiem kood be saevd, dhae wood leev skuul much beter prepaerd for dhaer lief's wurk, whotever dhe length ov dhaer eduekaeshon.

It iz not oenly dhe aktueal lurning ov speling dhat taeks up soe much tiem ; speling mistaeks ar maed, and hav to be korekted, in aul dhe riten wurk thruout dhe skuul. Dhis leedz to los ov tiem, to sae nuthing ov los ov temper.

It iz sumtiemz sujested dhat speling kan and shood be lurnt insidentaly; dhat much reeding wil leed to good speling. Ekspeeryens shoez dhat in a badly spelt langgwej dhis iz not dhe kaes. Dr. Wallin in hiz monograaf on Speling Efishensy haz shoen, az dhe rezult ov eksperiments, dhat dhe sistematik memoriezing ov lists ov wurdz wil aloen produes dhe purfekt speler; and dhaer ar meny instansez ov good reederz huu spel badly. When dhe speling iz rashonal, dhe kondishonz ar diferent; dhe proeses ov lurning to reed duz not entael dhis memoriezing, which taeks up soe much tiem widhout eny korresponding gaen.

We heer a good deel nou-a-daez about dhe deteeryoraeshon ov speling; it haz been sujested dhat mor tiem shood be given to it in our skuulz. Az long az mekanikal akuerasy woz wun ov dhe graet aemz ov dhe teeching, it woz posibl to produes dhe purfekt speler. Teecherz ar begining to study dhe chield miend mor thurroly; dhae shrink from aul unreezonabl eksersiez ov dhaer authorrity. Mekanikal memoriezing iz repulsiv to dhem. In dheez surkumstansez dhe purfekt speler kanot be produest ; but dhe remedy iz not to taek up stil mor ov dhe chield'z valueabl eduekaeshon-tiem for dhis purpos, but to adopt a rashonal speling dhat kan be lurnt kwikly and in a reezonabl wae.
"It iz signifikant ov much dhat, dhoe dhe moest konsurvativ klaas in dhe komuenity iz akuetly konshus ov dhe thouzand difikultiz in dhe wae, teecherz az a body ar kordyaly widh dhe Speling Reformerz. And whie? Dhae, abuv aul udher pursonz interested, noe dhe mizery and travael involvd in dhe atempt to teech dhe bewildering kolokaeshon ov kontradikshonz and konundrumz miskauld our sistem ov speling." - DR. THOMAS MACNAMARA.
Furst publisht, 1913. Reisued, 1941.


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