Finnish friend: simpler spelling

19th February 2010 at 00:00

The main difference between Finland and the UK is that Finland has Europe's simplest spelling system, and the UK its most complex.

Finnish uses just 38 spellings, each of which has only one sound. English uses 185 spellings for its 43 sounds, and 69 of those have more than one sound, such as the "a" in "and", "any" and "apron". Most English spellings have alternatives (blue, shoe, flew, through, too), while each Finnish speech sound has only one. The simplicity of Finnish spelling makes learning to read and write exceptionally easy. English spelling makes literacy acquisition difficult and is a barrier to accessing other learning.

No school system or teaching method can compensate for this difference. Finland does educationally better than any other European country because it has a learner-friendly spelling system.

Masha Bell author of `Rules and Expectations of English Spelling'.

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