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Quirky spelling hinders literacy

March 2006

Quirky spelling blocks many from becoming literate

The Christchurch and Auckland regional finals of the New Zealand Plunket Spelling Bee (respectivly, this Thursday, March 16, and following Thursday, March 23) are to be picketed by Spell 4 Literacy, a New Zealand group advocating spelling change.

“We want to draw attention to the fact that, altho many children, such as bee participants, hav the ability and persistence to master much of our quirky spelling and become competent readers and writers, there ar others who, thru no fault of their own, ar not so fortunat,” said Allan Campbell, a spokesman for the group.

“If we want our literacy standards to match those achieved by some non-English European languages, we need to make our spelling an easy tool to master, and not an irritant and hurdle to overcome.”

Spell 4 Literacy congratulated those who wer competent enuf to participate in the bee, but their good fortune should not hide the fact that English spelling was a huge and unnecessary hurdle for many. “Unnecessary because other languages hav shown that updating spelling can make it a logical, easy-to-manage tool that eases, not hinders, literacy learning,” Campbell said.

The bee, open to year nine students, has four regional finals, in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland, befor a national final in Wellington on April 1. Competitors and their schools compete for numerous prizes. The national winner will go to Washington, DC, to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee final, where the winner’s major prize is $US12,000.

Spell 4 Literacy is also calling for the parliamentary Education and Science Select Committee to hold an inquiry into ways of upgrading spelling so it helps the acquisition of literacy.


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