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Spelling it out [Kindle Edition]

Masha Bell
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This book is about English spelling - not the English language. It debunks some misconceptions about it and explains:
1. How English spelling differs from other alphabetic writing systems.
2. How it became so different.
3. What consequences its irregularities have.
4. What the worst English spelling problems are.
5. How they could be ameliorated.
The book helps to understand why all English-speaking countries have found it difficult to reduce their persistently high levels of educational underachievement, why teachers have difficulty agreeing on the best literacy teaching method, and why government ministers keep changing their guidance to them, without making a difference to standards.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 231 KB
  • Print Length: 148 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008GKU1ZA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #667,919 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

After health problems forced me to retire from 20 years of teaching English and modern languages in 1995, I became an independent literacy researcher and writer. Apart from my published books 'Rules and Exceptions of English Spelling'(2009), 'Learning to Read' (2007),
'Understanding English Spelling' (2004) and 'Spelling it out' (ebook July 2012), and many articles and letters, I also provide free factual information about English spelling on my blogs, and

At the time of my retirement the poor literacy standards of many school leavers were attracting much media attention in the UK and other English-speaking countries. They were generally blamed on poor teaching, despite research evidence making it increasingly clear that learning to read and write English is exceptionally difficult.

I had been aware of the learning difficulties posed by the inconsistencies of English spelling since 1959, when I first began to learn English in Lithuania at the age of 14, when I was already fluent in Lithuanian and Russian. My later study of German, French and Spanish had confirmed this too. My early retirement gave me the opportunity to make a detailed analysis of English spelling and its origins and the learning problems which its irregularities create.

I did this with the hope that my work might help TO END THE PERENNIAL READING WARS which have been raging across the English-speaking world for more than a century, with employers endlessly blaming schools for poor literacy standards, and teachers often blaming each other, while completely ignoring the main cause of English literacy problems: the inconsistencies of English spelling. My aim is to put debates about how best to teach children to read and write English on a more rational, better informed footing.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique piece of research into English spelling 8 Aug. 2012
By Bluey
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although not everyone will agree with her recommendations for English spelling reform, Ms Bell has written a well structured and detailed description of English spelling and the problems caused by its inconsistency. Through her description of the historical development of our spelling system,together with an accurate analysis of its phonetic irregularities, she has managed to dispel many of the myths surrounding it.
She has clearly spent a great deal of time researching and writing "Spelling it out" and I believe that it is an essential read for anyone attempting to teach English spelling, or to those who are simply interested in understanding the English language.
At £2.10 I can strongly recommend it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spelling It Out 10 Aug. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The antique nature of the English spelling system is an obstacle that we all have to negotiate if want or learn to read and become fully functional members of society. It is not clear to many just what a burden our quaint and irregular spelling can be. The author does a great service in spelling this out: she shows how our spelling system came to be the way it is and what the costs are to us all.

This book is highly recommended for both the perplexed and frustrated as well as scholars in the field.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
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! Read more ›
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of the reviewers 10 Aug. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Some of the reviews of this new book on English spelling seem to include quite a bit of misinformation. I will address a few of them:
"There are better accounts of the English language and its spelling. Don't waste your money on this one."

Major: There are a number of good books on English spelling but I think this one breaks some new ground.
You don't have to spend any money to read 50% of the book. From the sample, you should be able to determine
if this book is of interest or useful to you. Some of the critics seem to be more interested in book burning.

"self published books are no use to a philologist or educator"
Major: Not all of Mrs. Bell's books are self published. This one may be. The book is not that different from books by old members of the philological society. Most phonics teachers are aware of the irregularities in English spelling. Masha Bell obviously thinks that most people and perhaps most elementary teachers lack this awareness.

One thread you will find in Bell's books that is generally lacking in the mainstream books on English spelling is that irregularities in English spelling increase the time required to teach children to read and write and have other social consequences. You will find this thread in older books on spelling improvement but they quickly move on because their goal is to teach people how to deal with traditional spelling.

"A dictionary that has different spellings to those found in (Bell's) books would be useless."
Major: English dictionaries unlike the dictionaries for most other languages have two spellings. One for the traditional spelling and one for the pronunciation. The two spellings rarely match. though=/'tho/ Mrs.
Read more ›
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