Why is English spelling so complex?

When students start to complain about the complexities of English spelling, and they will, here is a small activity that may help them start to understand some of the reasons.

English has ‘borrowed’ groups of words from many languages over the years, not many of those languages used exactly the same letters that are used in English today.  So not only has someone had to decide how the word should be ‘converted’ from another language, but in the case of some nouns, how the plural should be spelled.

So शैम्पू was transliterated into English as shampoo and the plural is shampoos.

Ask your students to try the dustbin game and for faster finishers or to extend the exercise ask them to decide on the origins of ‘other words’ and or how the plural (or singular) forms are spelled.



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