Thursday, 2 February 2023

The rules already learnt still apply By Steve Way


As I found learning to spell both a boring process and one I wasn’t good at, I have been working on a project to write stories, sketches and poems to hopefully support the teaching of spelling rules the children are expected to learn at different ages dictated by the English National Curriculum for England and Wales in a creative way.

I’m currently collating the pieces I’ve written for the first stage of KS2 (Ages 7-9) and I was amused by one of the comments linked to the extension of the teaching of words ending with the suffix -ation. The end comment states, “The rules already learnt still apply.” How concerning would it be if we lived in a world where the rules for spelling changed as we got older!

Perhaps events such as this would occur…

Concerned and secretly embarrassed father: Now come on our kid, you’ve been spelling words like an infant long enough now, it’s time for you to spell words the adult way…

Protective but socially conscious mother: Mrs Tanner’s eldest, Ellie, spells necessary like a grown-up – ne-suh-sari – and she’s only six…

Basically intelligent but harassed child: Oh, if only the rules I learned in the infants still applied as I got older…

Father: Well, they don’t, so it’s time to pull your socks up lad… or as I should say sok-es.

Mother: So now please go to your ru-oh-me and do your sp-eh-ling x-err-sigh-ziz…

Father: (As child leaves for his room dejectedly) Rules learnt still apply… have you heard him…

Perhaps you all found learning to spell correctly a simple process from your time in the cradle onwards but doing so has never come naturally to me, which is why I wanted to see if I could play a part in making the process more enjoyable for the children having to endure the strictures of the National Curriculum.

The learning of spelling was forced on me long before I began to enjoy writing sketches at school for my friends and I to perform and realised that I wanted to be a writer. If any of you have been in my position you have no doubt had many tell you that, “You can’t be a writer because you can’t spell.” Whilst I recognise the importance, or at least convenience of spelling correctly, I have come to the belief – rightly or wrongly – that that’s the equivalent of telling an apprentice that he or she can’t become a plumber because they can’t swim.

With regard to spelling it has been somewhat encouraging teaching Spanish people English. As no doubt with many other nationalities, they find it almost impossible to predict the pronunciation of unfamiliar words due to the eccentricities of English spelling – words such as rough, recipe, comfortable come to mind though there are many more. They are also intrigued by the idea of having spelling competitions. This would be pointless in Spain as the pronunciation of each letter is completely predictable. Each letter – one sound. Perhaps I should work more on my Spanish and set up a competition with my students – finally a spelling competition I could win!

Going back to the National Curriculum. In the section for KS1 (infants) one requirement is for the children to be able to spell words ending -il. However, the NC states “There are not many of these words,” and lists only pencil, fossil and nostril as examples. For me statements like this irritate like a stone in a shoe and so for this requirement I wrote this poem for my book Spellbinding Stories KS1. I hope you like it, or at least agree that there are a few words that end -il.


Some people say,

As perhaps they may,

“Few words end in -il,

Just pencil, nostril and fossil.”


So please never wail,

When mis-hitting a nail,

For France setting sail,

Or sending the mail.


 Don’t boil soil in tinfoil,

(For it will spoil.)

Defend all from evil –

By adopting a weevil!?!*


Should you see a thick slimy trail,

Then friend QUICK -find your pail!

For then you’ll not fail,

To enjoy lunch on a snail! (Yum!)


If you’re making a stencil…

Then first eat a lentil. **

To catch quail by the tail,

Use a coil trap set by Gail.


Of course it’s a thrill,***

When your team’s up one-nil!

Though if playing Brazil,

It’s usually us with the nil!


So… when…


Some people say,

As perhaps they may,

“Few words end in -il,

Just pencil, nostril and fossil.”


I’m not sure they’re right…


*I’m not really sure if this would work… but until someone adopts a weevil, we won’t know will we? … and evil may continue to lurk in dark corners…

**Actually, eat several – they’re good for you and delicious! Perhaps you could have some with your snail?

***Thrill ends in i double l but it rhymes with nil so well I had to use it… sorry…


Spellbinding Stories KS1 Paperback edition ISBN-10: 1717984568 Kindle ASIN: B07G49YMT5

Hopefully coming soon Spellbinding Stories LKS2 with a grammar supplement.

1 comment:

Rowena House said...