English is too hard to read for children


The Observer reports on recent research that claims that the English spelling system is ‘absolutely, unspeakably awful’. That is the conclusion of new research that has found that children face 800 words by the age of 11 that hinder their reading because of the way they are spelt.

Monkey, asparagus, spinach, caterpillar, dwarf, banana, handkerchief, pliers, soldiers, stomach, petal and telescope have all been included on the long list of words that baffle children because they contain letter combinations that are more commonly pronounced in a different way.

The words have all been identified as problematic for reading, as opposed to writing, because of their ‘phonic unreliability’, according to the study The Most Costly English Spellings. It was presented at the weekend at the conference of the Spelling Society, held at Coventry University.