An author offers a manual for instructors and parents on the best ways to teach students to navigate English spelling.
“Spelling is the unloved stepchild of the English language,” writes Fulford (The Complete Guide to English Spelling Rules, 2012, etc.) in the preface to this spelling guide. “Students hate to study it, teachers are frustrated when they teach it.” With this volume, the author attempts to make the subject a little less of a slog by building his text around the spelling rules that underlie most (though not all) words in the English language. Fulford believes that students learn better when they are offered the how and why of things rather than being forced to accept them without question. These spelling rules provide the how and why of “the various sounds of E,” the QU (plus vowel) combo, and the so-called “Annoying Spellings,” with topics like “Silent First Letters,” “The GH Words,” and “Confusing Homophones.” After a quick but thorough introductory section outlining the history of spelling and how he came to his methods, the author delivers chapters on each of the sounds that compose English words. The chapters present the rule (or rules) relevant to that sound followed by several long lists of spelling words that feature it. For “Combinations Using C,” for example, there are lists for when CH sounds like CH, like K, and like SH. The author occasionally supplies helpful notes to teachers on the difficulty of the concepts and at what stage of the learning process they should be introduced. Fulford writes in calm, practiced prose that communicates his ideas with clarity. His organization system greatly simplifies spelling, making it seem like something anyone could teach without much trouble. The book feels comprehensive at only 123 pages (and most of that just lists of words). Even highly literate readers should find useful rules that they never knew existed (such as how to predict whether a word ends in ABLE or IBLE). Fulford’s goal is to demystify spelling so that it feels less intimidating to both teachers and students, and on that count he has surely succeeded.
A slim but highly effective guide for teaching the convoluted spellings of English words.