Spelling mistakes in note about spellings!

(79 Posts)
mrssmiling Thu 03-Oct-13 09:25:10

DS brought home a note about 'Spelling Practise' asking us to 'practice spellings with you're child.'
Do I say anything or just feel shock at the teacher's own spelling mistakes?
Has anyone else had similar mistakes in letters from school?

YDdraigGoch Thu 03-Oct-13 09:28:33

I would point it out to the teacher - though it may not be the teacher that typed the note. However, I would never let a piece of writing go out in my name without having checked it first.

My DDs' school's letters are usually dreadfully written, but it's the support staff who write them, not the teachers (though that shouldn't make a difference). What really annoys me is that they keep referring to "your son/daughter", when they could just say "your child"!

offwhitecurtains Thu 03-Oct-13 09:37:59

Yes. Quite a few times. From a teacher and from TAs (in their reading books, in their handwriting - definitely not out-sourced... 'you' and 'you're' seemed to be particularly troublesome). But in all cases the teachers were so nice, and I was fond of the TAs, and they all had other strengths, that I overlooked the mistakes. Also it was reception and Year 1 so I didn't think the kids would notice. If the children were older I might point it out politely, although I'd agonise over how to do it without causing offence.

spanish11 Thu 03-Oct-13 10:46:10

Yes, the Ta wrote, Your word it was X not Y.

Mashabell Thu 03-Oct-13 12:07:19

Some heterographs, like 'practice/practise' and 'it's/its', trip people up ad infinitum. In the US they have conflated 'practice/practise' to just 'practice' and the sky hasn't fallen in.

The distinction is utterly pointless and should be abolished here too. We don't differenciate between 'a notice' and 'to notice' or 'a promise' and 'to promise'. What's so special about 'practice'?

If it was up to me, I would make differentiation between all heterographs optional, from 'ad/add' to 'there/their' and 'two/too/to'. Let the pedants carry on using them if they must, but differentiating between them serves no purpose other than make learning to spell far more time-consuming than need be. Their identical sounds never cause any problems in speech. It's ludicrous to assume they would in a text.

The 2,000+ homophones with just one spelling for their different meanings (mean, lean, sound, round, ground...) never cause any difficulties to anyone. The 330 or so that we do spell differently are nothing but a silly convention which was created mainly by Johnson's dictionary of 1755.

But coming back to your question: to err is human, to forgive divine. We are all much better at spotting the spelling mistakes of others than our own. U can be sure that whoever wrote the note knows what it should be. S/he just made a mistake.

shellingtonboots Thu 03-Oct-13 12:17:51

Last week's homework had "practicing" and again in a letter yesterday "to practice".

The home-school diary has "stationary" for pens/paper etc for the second year running.

I know it's easy to be critical and everyone (including me - prob loads in this post as I'm pretending to be working...) makes mistakes. But I do think schools should set an example.

Having said that, I'm too chicken to mention it to them (just grumble to myself!).

BirdyBedtime Thu 03-Oct-13 13:29:35

We had a list of spelling words home headed Plantinum words - I did heave a big sigh and apparently the teacher was mortified when someone pointed it out to her, so mistakes do happen.

To me the 'you're' is more concerning a mistake than practise.

friday16 Thu 03-Oct-13 21:15:22

We don't differenciate

Nor does anyone else. On what planet, whether "reformed" spelling or the stuff that the rest of us use, would it be "differentiation" but "differenciate"? It's wrong in terms of standard English, and utterly pointless as one of your silly made-up "reformed" spellings. How is it more logical than differentiate and differentiation? The answer is, of course, that you make the spellings up as you go along.

And it's You, not U. I see you're writing I this week, not i. Making it up as you go along, again.

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 07:10:50

'Differenciate' was actually a spelling mistake on my part - a logical slip.
'Difference', therefore 'differenciate', like 'appreciate' - but English does not work like that.

People who object to modernisation of English spelling often argue that this would destroy links between words, but English often does anyway, as with 'difference - differentiate', 'space - spatial' (cf. face - facial); speak – speech, nine – ninth, four – forty....

Very few people realise how this mess came about. The system was
messed up mainly by people who did not care how easy or difficult it made learning to read and write:

1) 9th C scribes who thought that having the letter u next to m or n made reading difficult (munth) and so used o instead (month, mother, mongrel).

2) Court clerks who were annoyed about having to switch from French to English (around 1430, after the end of the 100 years war between France and England), and changed simpler earlier spellings like 'hed, welth, heven' and 'reson, seson, speke' to head, reason, etc.'

3) First English type-setters (starting 1476) who were fond of adding extra letters to words, because they were paid by the line (come, some, have, give, inne, itte, hadde).

4) Dutch, Belgian, German and French printers of Tyndale's New Testament of 1525 and then his whole bible, because in England the printing of them was illegal until 1539, but people were desperate to read them. The bishop of London kept buying them up for burning in St Paul's yard, but they kept being reprinted in many places, in at least 40 different editions, with their spellings becoming more and more varied.

5) Private tutors to the rich who compiled the first English dictionaries and were not in the least interested in making learning to read and write easy for anyone, especially not the masses. They wanted to protect their jobs and superior status.

6) Samuel Johnson who thought that it would be a shame to lose all of the rich variety of English spelling (e.g. thare, their, ther, thair, there) and decided to link some of them to different meanings (their/there).

7) Jonson's veneration of Latin which led him to exempt many words of Latin origin from the English consonant doubling rule (as in 'diner – dinner). He bequeathed us the likes of 'habit, mineral, very', leaving the whole English short and long vowel spelling system in tatters (rabbit – habit, minnow – mineral, very – merry).

BrigitBigKnickers Fri 04-Oct-13 07:24:52

Wow Mashabel that's really interesting.

Coming back to the original op- The practice/ practise thing annoys me too. It doesn't matter how these words came about, there are rules and a teacher should know them- especially with the emphasis on spelling and grammar and the new SPAG test that came in last year.

(Am a teacher by the way)

englishteacher78 Fri 04-Oct-13 07:26:12

Practice = noun
Practise = verb
It's not hard. Provided someone teaches you the difference.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 07:39:05

Wow Mashabel that's really interesting.

It's also, in large part, bollocks.

For example, Masha ascribes the their/there distinction to Johnson (born 1709). But a swift glance at a First Folio from 1623 will show "There to meet with Macbeth" and "choake their Art" in the first dozen or so lines of Macbeth.

EBearhug Fri 04-Oct-13 07:52:08

I would have to. I had a letter from my grandmother when I was 11 or 12 or so, pointing out I had made the practice/practise error when I'd last written to her, and I wouldn't want anyone else to risk that. Not that anyone else shares my grandmother, certainly no one who makes such errors, and she's been dead several years now, and no one writes letters these days anyway, and... okay, shutting up!

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 08:02:52

The problem with these debates is that people won't agree terms.

So the spelling reform nutters think the purpose of written language is to mirror spoken language. This fails because acents vary from region to region so that a single "phonetic" spelling has to privilege one particular accent over all others. The only serious attempt to use phonetic spelling in Britain, ITA, took no account of this and resulted in a system of writing even more opaque than standard English for people in, say, Newcastle. Spelling Reformers tend to be unable to avoid using words like "defective" and "wrong" of such accents. Their claims about tutors conspiring to make English harder to learn (etc) look like a walk in the park compared to a proposal to re-spell English to make it easier for people in London to learn to read and write while making it massively, massively harder for those in Scotland.

So the claim that the purpose of spelling is to accurately mirror pronunciation is simply wrong. It isn't. They are pursuing an objective that is wrong, so arguments about how they pursue it are dialogues of the deaf.

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 09:23:59

Masha ascribes the their/there distinction to Johnson (born 1709). But a swift glance at a First Folio from 1623 will show "There to meet with Macbeth" and "choake their Art" in the first dozen or so lines of Macbeth.
By the time Shakespeare's works began to be published, there was already a move towards standardisation, with printing houses adopting 'house styles', but during his lifetime people spelt as they pleased, often spelling the same word differently on the same page, as Elizabeth I often did.

Johnson was most definitely the final fixer of heterographs.

BurberryQ Fri 04-Oct-13 09:26:15

I would let practise/practice go but 'you're' for 'your' is, from a teacher, unforgivable and should be pointed out.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 09:46:52

"By the time Shakespeare's works began to be published, there was already a move towards standardisation, with printing houses adopting 'house styles', but during his lifetime people spelt as they pleased"

You're making it up as you're going along. Shakespeare's work "began to be published" twenty years before he died, while he was still an active playwright. The earliest is, IIRC, First Quarto of Titus Andronicus in 1594; Macbeth (to take my example) is thought to have been written in about 1606, so Shakespeare was very much alive in 1594.

"Make way to lay them by their brethren.
(sd: They open the Tombe)
There greete in silence as the dead are wont,"

It's the same spelling in British Library's third Quarto of 1611 and there you can look at pictures and stuff. There/their. 1594. Your move.

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 09:47:22

spelling reform nutters think the purpose of written language is to mirror spoken language
There have been some such people.

I merely advocate making English spelling more consistent, so that learning to read and write becomes less time-consuming, but reducing some of its worst irregularities. The worst retardants of English literacy progress are:

Irregular use of consonant doubling (for showing short, stressed vowels)
merry (regular) – very (missing) – serrated (surplus) -
(423 – 513 – 239)
surplus –e endings [promise - cf. tennis, surprise] - (188)
Variants for:
e: end – head, any, said, Wednesday, friend, leisure, leopard, bury - (301 – 67)
u: up – front, some, couple, blood - (308 – 68)
o-e / -o: mole – bowl, roll, soul; old, mould, boast, most, goes (276 – 158)
ee: eat – eel, even, ceiling, field, police, people, me, key, ski, debris, quay
(131ee - 152ea – 173 others)
Long oo : food – rude, shrewd, move, group, fruit, truth, tomb,
blue, do, shoe, through, manoeuvre (95 – 101)

All I am suggesting is that reducing excpetions to those patterns could make English literacy acquisition much easier and vastly less time-consuming. Which is really a completely self-evident no-brainer. Learning to read and write 'reed, speek, beleev, reeson...' and 'bed, red, hed, sed, frend...' would clearly be much easier than having to do so with 'read every day... read yesterday' and 'speak, seek, shriek'...

I.t.a. was an experiment to test if making Eng. spel. more regular would speed up literacy acquisition, and children learned to read and write much faster for the year they were using it. It did not help them to cope better with normal spelling when they had to switch to that, but many schools insisted on using it, because teachers were gob-smacked by the ease with which children learned with it.

The experiment itself was foolish to change many of the main English spelling patterns, instead of merely reducing exceptions to them. They changed, for example a-e to a single letter which looks a bit like ae (maek, broek, etc.).

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 09:49:21

Correction of slip:
so that learning to read and write becomes less time-consuming, BY reducing some of its worst irregularities.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 11:55:55

Which is really a completely self-evident no-brainer. Learning to read and write 'reed, speek, beleev, reeson...' and 'bed, red, hed, sed, frend...' would clearly be much easier than having to do so with 'read every day... read yesterday' and 'speak, seek, shriek'...

"Self-evident no-brainer": who needs research and evidence when it's so obvious, eh?

Presumably later you'll be explaining how your system works in parts of Scotland where "head" and "heed" are homophones. Will the thing on top of your neck be spelt "hed" or "heed" in your brave new world?

Mashabell Fri 04-Oct-13 19:41:50

"Self-evident no-brainer": who needs research and evidence when it's so obvious, eh?

There is plenty of research evidence as well: the 1963-4 large-scale study with i.t.a. which established beyong a shadow of doubt that with more regularly spelt English children can learn to read and write much faster; the Seymour et al 2003 research which investigated speed of literacy acquisition in 13 European languages and found it to be slowest in English, by a long way.

My analysis of the spellings of the 7,000 most used English words has identified which spelling patterns are quite regular and which ones have many exceptions and make learning to read and write English exceptionally slow.

The short /a/ sound (had, hat, rang..) is spelt irregularly in just 3 words (plaid, plat, meringue), and in not highly common ones at that, so is not much of problem, as 466 words spell short /a/ with the letter a.

The spelling of the /ee/ sound by contrast is completely unpredictable in all 456 words: 156 ea (meat), 133 ee (meet), 86 e-e (even), with assorted others in the rest (seize, siege, police, ski, me, people...). I don't think u need any other research to understand that if that sound was spelt just one way, learning to do so would take a minuscule fraction of time it takes now.

The irregularities of consonant doubling absorb more teaching and learning time than anything else.

Re accents,
people with accents which are very far removed from standard English would continue to have some problems even in a highly regular system like the Finnish one. Fewer than they do now, but still some.

Masha Bell

spanish11 Fri 04-Oct-13 19:47:53

The Ta wrote in my child spelling book, make sure if your sentences making sens.

goingmadinthecountry Fri 04-Oct-13 20:41:21

Of course it matters - that's poor grammar and not OK. I would correct it and send it back, and probably write to HT as well. I'm a teacher.

It matters and practice/practise is quite easy to get right once you know it follows the same rule as advice/advise. It is exactly that sort of rule that teachers and TAs should be taught and then disseminate to their pupils (perhaps not to YR/Y1).

I find it quite difficult to read sentences with the wrong version of there/their/they're, to/too/two or your/you're. I think we are stuck with the rules as they do matter to lots of the people who can already read.

friday16 Fri 04-Oct-13 22:27:10

the 1963-4 large-scale study with i.t.a. which established beyong a shadow of doubt that with more regularly spelt English children can learn to read and write much faster

Only in the world of spelling reform can ITA be regarded as anything other than an unmitigated disaster.

literacy acquisition in 13 European languages and found it to be slowest in English

Which explains, of course, why people in Europe find English very difficult to learn, resulting in its complete failure as a worldwide common language of interchange.

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