Christina reminds us:
In North America there's this big advertising thing about ``Hooked on
Phonics'' ... and I think the word `phonics' is what the teaching
method was called when I went through the Ontario grade school. Uh ...
early 60s ... ;-) I think it was about the middle of the decade when
phonics was replaced by this global `Gestalt' type of learning -- show
the whole word, memorise all the shapes that are on the card, repeat
the word -- ok, so now you know how to say and spell `horse'.
People are still using this? I know the US education system is in a
bad way (I don't know the Canadian), but I had no idea it was this
bad. The flashcard stuff (along with the ITA) was ditched as
unworkable and damaging some 15 or more years ago.
I was taught the old way: learn the etymology and the spelling drops
into place. Latin from an early age, Middle English and French shortly
afterwards, then a choice of Greek, German, Russian, Spanish, etc. The
only time I misspell a word is when I make a typo due to finger
trouble, too much drink, or not enough sleep.
the truly irregular exceptions. And as Ken says, you learn patterns,
and you learn basic rules, and it's not at all as chaotic or random as
even teachers sometimes seem to imply (now how's that for
Patterns and rules are by far the easiest route. Children seem to
absorb them very fast, especially when given a reason for them, rather
than being forcefed them to parrot back (although that also works).
If teachers are saying English spelling is chaotic or random then they
shouldn't be teaching it, or they should go back to college for a
refresher on the origins of language.