Should written English be made easier to learn to read?
- Written Activity No. 7, 1969
- Jack Smith
- © Jack Smith
Learning to read and write in English is not easy. This is because of the way the letters link to the sounds in English words. Try reading the sentence below:
“Come home gnome!”
What do you notice about the letters and sounds in these words? Each word shares three letters in the same order – ome – yet they sound different in “come” and “home” but they sound the same in “home” and “gnome”. That makes life complicated but things get even more confusing when some letters are not sounded at all – as in “gnome”!
Learning to read and write in some other languages is much easier than it is in English. This is because the letters in some languages link to the sounds in a very predictable way. For languages like Turkish, Greek, Italian, and Spanish once you know the letter sounds you can read virtually all words, even those you have not seen before. It only takes a few months to become skilled at reading these languages. So should we reform written English to make it easier to learn to read and write? The German language was reformed for just this reason. Should we do the same for English?