Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why Can't Johnny Read? Because it's English!

Here is a fascinating article about how difficult the English language really is to read compared to other languages. A few highlights:

 “…the Spelling Society speculates that English may just be the world’s most irregularly spelled language.”


 “Mastering such a language takes a long time and requires abilities that most children don’t develop until the middle or latter part of elementary school.”
The article goes on to explain some of the reasons that spelling the English language became so unpredictable. One reason: it was cast in stone by non-native-language-users.

 “The first English printing press, in the 15th century, was operated by Belgians who didn’t know the language and made numerous spelling errors (such as ‘busy’ in place of ‘bisy’).”

And of course there was the influence of money…

 “…because they were paid by the line, they sometimes padded words with extra letters; ‘frend,’ for example, became ‘friend.'”

 My takeaway is this: When we compare the literacy levels of our children to children in other countries around the world, the difficulty of the language needs to be considered. Somehow, this had not occurred to me before.