Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Political initiative for spelling change

Political initiative for spelling change

Almost exactly 50 years after a spelling reform bill was approved by the British House of Commons, a comparable move is being made in New Zealand.

The Oamaru branch of the Labour Party is putting a remit before the Otago-Southland regional conference of the party in Dunedin on March 29 and 30 asking that the Government hold an inquiry to see if current English and American spelling is a handicap to learners and users of English.

It asks that the inquiry compare English with other languages, some of which have a central authority that monitors and revises spelling, and that it considers the desirability of New Zealand calling a world conference of English users to look at making spelling improvements under an international authority.

In February 1953 the House of Commons passed the second reading and committee stages of the Spelling Reform Bill. It was eventually withdrawn when it was realized the House of Lords would reject it, and as a compromise the secretary of education agreed to an inquiry into the place of spelling in learning to read and write.

This inquiry, carried out by two respected educational institutions, London University's Institute of Education and the National Foundation for Educational Research, found an experimental initial teaching alfabet markedly improved learning rates in reading and writing.

"It is good to see a political party here at last addressing this problem," said Allan Campbell, of the Simplified Spelling Society. "We English-speakers just do not realize the unnecessary burden our spelling puts on children learning to read and write. Pupils take up to two years more to learn these skills than do children in other European languages, mainly because of our spelling.

"In English, spelling is a big deal: we mistakenly judge people's intelligence on their ability to spell, and we consult dictionaries for spelling rather than just for meanings and derivations," he said.

His society hoped the Oamaru initiative would be a first step towards a much-needed change.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Legendary Bassist David Friesen Plays Wellington’s Newest Jazz Venue

Friesen is touring New Zealand to promote his latest album Another Time, Another Place, recorded live at Auckland's Creative Jazz Club in 2015. More>>

Howard Davis Review: The Father - Descending Into The Depths of Dementia

Florian Zeller's dazzling drama The Father explores the effects of a deeply unsettling illness that affects 62,000 Kiwis, a number expected to grow to 102,000 by 2030. More>>

Howard Davis Review: Blade Runner Redivivus

When Ridley Scott's innovative, neo-noir, sci-fi flick Blade Runner was originally released in 1982, at a cost of over $45 million, it was a commercial bomb. More>>

14-21 October: New Zealand Improv Festival In Wellington

Imagined curses, Shibuya’s traffic, the apocalypse, and motherhood have little in common, but all these and more serve as inspiration for the eclectic improvised offerings coming to BATS Theatre this October for the annual New Zealand Improv Festival. More>>


Bird Of The Year Off To A Flying Start

The competition asks New Zealanders to vote for their favourite bird in the hopes of raising awareness of the threats they face. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books:
Jenny Abrahamson's John & Charles Enys: Castle Hill Runholders, 1864-1891

This volume will be of interest to a range of readers interested in the South Island high country, New Zealand’s natural environment, and the history of science. More>>