We are Not Alone

I gave up apologizing about it to my students when I realised that, because of it, we all have had to suffer. It is a cultural trial, a rite of passage that bonds all English learners, young and old, native, non-native. It is the irrational process of learning how to spell and read in English!

I came across this visual which shows the reading level of various languages after one

year of instruction. English is the first language on the chart; Spanish is the seventh. Why is the red bar so low for English learners and so high for Spanish learners? Are English learners less intelligent? Or is it that the teachers are bad? Why does every other language soar above English?


Maybe a better question to ask would be: could it be that the actual system of spelling is unintelligible and bad?! Indeed, according to John Katt, Professor of English, that is exactly the problem. Good news, right?! It’s not you! It’s the system that is irrational. Now, instead of nagging your children or perhaps wondering if they lack the “smart gene”, you can give them a break. They are normal! It’s English that is lacking!

Let me give some examples:

Pronounce “answer” without the “w”; along with “write”, “wrinkle” and “wrong”. No “w” sound, but you have to write it!