PIRLS."English has many orthographic inconsistencies, and a richness deriving from its many linguistic roots. It is possible that these factors mean it is more difficult for low achieving pupils than more regular languages."
Times Educational Supplement, April 17 2003. Letters p22."The gap between the highest and lowest attaining children tended to be wider in English-speaking countries such as England and New Zealand, than in other nations. Researchers said one factor might be the irregular nature of English" (TES April 11).
They need to reflect on the difference between language and spelling. The English language is no more irregular than any other language; it is the "spelling" which is more irregular than almost any other language. So why not make it easier?
Dr John M Gledhill, University secretary, Coventry University.
[John Gledhill is SSS Membership Secretary.]
2001 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study.Report April 2003. www.nfer.ac.uk Search on PIRLS. There are many documents.
Over 140,000 10 year old pupils in 35 countries participated in reading literacy tasks in May 2001.
"England is one of the countries with the widest span of attainment. Its most able pupils are the highest scoring in the survey, but its low achieving pupils are ranked much lower. This pattern is a consistent one in English-speaking countries, but continental European countries are more likely to have a similar standing for their high and low achieving children, leading to a narrower range of attainment.
However, several developed English-speaking countries (New Zealand, England, Scotland and the United States) also tend to have a wide range of achievement. This contrasts with such European countries as Italy, France, Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands, which all have fairly narrow ranges of achievement.
The reasons for this difference between European countries with lower ranges of attainment and the maintenance of position for their low achieving children, and English-speaking countries with larger ranges of performance and worse performance at the lower percentiles, need further exploration. They may derive from educational factors, such as curriculum and pedagogic practice, or from social factors in the countries related to cohesion or inclusiveness. Finally, they may also derive from the nature of the languages tested. English has many orthographic inconsistencies, and a richness deriving from its many linguistic roots. It is possible that these factors mean it is more difficult for low achieving pupils than more regular languages."
"The following groups were excluded.
Pupils with functional disabilities such as physical or sensory impairment...
Other pupils with [severe] special educational needs...
Children who are learning English as an additional language..."
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