This is a must read for all learners and teachers, educational, corporate, and government leaders interested in learning about, teaching, and studying English (its spelling), and making decisions on educational matters, respectively. Masha Bell indicates in some detail why English spelling has so many irregularities and what would be the many educational or societal advantages of making improvement to its spelling system. I wish she would have spent more time, however, indicating the economic and financial advantages of regularizing the English spelling system, but that's almost a different topic and one that is probably best addressed by an economist. At the end of the book, Masha Bell makes practical and sensible recommendations on which irregularities need to be regularized based on previous chapters that delved, in some detail, on the irregular nature of the English spelling system, listing many specific patterns, irregularities, changes and reasons why these are necessary or not. Masha Bell's meticulous, statistical analyses (that support her major thesis and secondary theses) help the reader understand that the spelling system really needs a serious fix. The only way to learn to read and write English reliably is to memorize all of those irregularities, which a lot of people are able to do, but at what cost? How much time does it take one to learn this system? How many people don't? Masha Bell spells it out. One small weakness of the book, I feel, is the lack of recommendations on how to implement these changes for all of those leaders that should. Should we force it on the public at large? Should we phase it in in schools? On the other hand, Masha Bell is a linguist and an educator, no a minister of education! All in all, though, it is a very pleasurable and interesting read for people who are not linguists and are concerned about literacy and it is a rewarding read for literacy professionals or leaders as well. Masha Bell does spell it out, very successfully, for the most part: a reform is needed. What are our leaders doing? The question for all stakeholders in this debate is WHY our leaders are NOT acting on the analyses described in Masha Bell's book? Why are subjecting kids, generation after generation, to a system that is broken, that needs to be fixed! Leaders are asking teachers to be better teachers. We ask leaders to be better leaders and look into the idea of coordinating actions between all Commonwealth countries to make English a more reliable, a more regular system that is easier to learn so that MORE kids can read quicker and can learn things that really matters rather than spelling rules. Illiteracy rates are too high! It is time to act. Don't blame teachers. Blame the system: the English spelling system and a certain complacency from elected officials to fix it. Buy it or send a link to it to all those CEOs, finance and educational ministers, superintendents, school board trustees, teachers, parents, and even kids who are labelled disabled, when it is clear that it is the language that is!
PS: I am not too sure what those negative reviews are about. I noticed that they were not very specific at all, which leads me to wonder if the reviewers really read the book or just had a visceral reaction to the idea of improving a spelling system that is incontrovertibly the main source of the problem, not teachers and not learners.