Posted by: rbbadger | November 17, 2008

Spelling problems

One thing I certainly don’t envy my students in is in having to negotiate all the hazards and minefields of that terrible monster known as English spelling.  Hangeul spelling has a few weird exceptions, but being a native speaker of language which pronounces Worcestershire as Wooster, I suppose I shouldn’t complain.  There are those students who are better in spelling that others.  Many of them try to brining their Korean spelling habits into English, something which just won’t work as the Korean spelling system is very scientific and exact. The English system is well…. 

One thing which does make our school’s curriculum a bit controversial is that we don’t even begin to teach spelling until the students have been at the school for a year.  The focus in the beginning is listening and speaking.  Even the activities, quizzes, and so forth that the book provides are all centred on listening and speaking.  Some of the parents don’t like it, as they think that we should be hitting their children with a heavy barrage of grammar right from the start.  I disagree, as we should be doing everything possible to encourage the children in learning this weird and unruly mess that we call English right from the start.  After we build up their speaking abilities, then we can begin to delve into grammar.  I’ve taught grammar for quite some time now.  I am thankful that I’ve never had to teach how to diagram sentences, something that my dear mother is quite expert in. 

French also has a rather strange system for spelling.  But the usage of the language is regulated by the government.  The German language is actually periodically revised every so often.  The German and Austrian governments set the standard forms of the language.  Every so often, spelling conventions and even grammatical usages are updated to reflect the changes to the language.  Korean also does this.  I bought a wonderful Korean text book which I still use, namely Ross King’s marvelous Elementary Korean.  It is not fun, owing to the fact that there are heavy amounts of grammar.  But when you are dealing with a language as far removed from English as Korean is, you need it.  It was pointed out to me that the spelling used in the book is, in a few details, out of date as the Korean government revises the rules for spelling every so often.  In other words, befitting a high-tech nation like this one, we get updates!  Then book was published in the late 1990s.  The Korean government has given an update since then.

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