Whether as a TEFL teacher you use many of these rules and funny stories we all remember learning ourselves as kids, they all seem to stick in our memories, but do they actually help us remember what they are supposed to? ‘I before e’ is probably the one we all remember and is now kicking up a bit of a storm.
A new government document called “Support for spelling” is being issued to 13,000 schools and states that the rule has so many exceptions that it advises teachers to drop it use modern methods to teach spelling. Reaction to the recommendation is split and is certainly starting some discussions. Many say that the rule has so many exceptions that is isn’t a rule and should not be taught, others believe that because of the exceptions, it starts a class discussion about the rule and other peculiarities in the English language and that is the best way to learn.
The document says, "The i before e rule is not worth teaching. It applies only to words in which the ie or ei stands for a clear ee sound. Unless this is known, words such as sufficient and veil look like exceptions. "There are so few words where the ei spelling for the ee sounds follows the letter c that it is easier to learn the specific words." These include receive, ceiling, perceive and deceit. The English language has many rules and words with shared soundings (homophones) and suggestions of methods are given in the document such as, funny stories and jokes like “How many socks in a pair? None - because you eat a pear.”
Some of these basic rules and word plays are used in the TEFL/ESL teaching world, here are a few more that you may have come across before that help remember the spelling of some of the more unusual words in English.
Rhythm: Rhythm Has Your Two Hips Moving Friend: If you “Fri” your friend he will come to an “end”Diarrhoea: Do In A Rush, Run Home Or Expect AccidentArithmetic: A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream
You can read other stories and advice articles on subjects like Teaching Grammar in the Teaching English news and articles section on Season Workers.