The English Writing System
English now is an international language. Many people around the world are keen to learn English, and keen more to make their children learn it as well. The writing system is a symbol or group of symbols that represent a language. Each language has a specific writing system which makes it different from the other languages. There are three kinds of writing system, the first one is a logographic system, which is a system that represents the words by even photos which are known as pictograms; for example, the lavatory to represent a bathroom, or represent the words by letters or signs which known as logograms, for example, the letter H for hospital. An example of this type of writing system is the Chinese language. The other kind of writing system is the syllabary system, which is a system that uses symbols to represent a syllable. An example of the syllabary system is the Japanese language. The third one is the alphabetic system, which is a system that uses the letters to represent the sounds; consonant and vowel sounds, and the example of the alphabetic system is the Arabic language and the English language. The English writing system is an alphabetic system, which is concerned with letters that represent spoken sounds which makes it a little bit complicated for learners, and especially children learners. The English writing system is a difficult system for children to learn.
The English writing system is an alphabetic system, which means the letters represent the sounds in the language. For example, the letter B represents the sound |b| in English spoken language. This writing system is difficult for English learners, and especially children learners, they would not understand why some written letters in English are having different spoken sounds, so they will get confused about how to write in the English language. The English writing system doesn’t consider as a transparent system, because it has different sounds for one letter, so the orthography is difficult, there are some other languages that consider as transparent languages according to the writing system like the Spanish language.
In the English language, the relationship between the written and the spoken language is complicated. The English writing system uses the alphabetic writing system, which is letters are representing sounds, and this is the complicated point of English orthography. The English language has 44 spoken sounds which are represented by only 26 written letters. So, the large number of sounds for the few letters may confuse the children while studying the language, they would not understand why the letter A is pronounced differently in many words, for example, it pronounced as |æ| in cat, and as |??| in ball. There are two reasons for these differences between written and spoken English; the first reason, there are many words form the old English still written in the same way even when the pronunciation had changed. For example, the word knight was pronounced differently in the early centuries, but its written way kept as it is. The second reason is, there are many words that had been borrowed from other languages such as the word café, if it’s really written as its pronounced, it will be written as caffay. So, for children learners specifically, it will be hard to determine the differences, especially if they are not English native speakers.
The English writing system has its advantage and disadvantage like any other system in the world. Starting by the advantage of the English writing system according to learners in general and to children in particular, is that English speakers can understand the words that have the same pronunciation but different spelling from only reading them, for example the word “night”, which is according to Cambridge dictionary, “the part of every 24-hour period when it is dark because there is very little light from the sun”, and the word ” knight” which is according to Cambridge dictionary, “(in the past) a man of high rank who was trained to fight as a soldier on a horse.” The two words have the same pronunciation but different spelling. On the other hand, the disadvantage of this writing system is, there are some words in English that their spelling cannot be expected from their pronunciation. For example, the word “listen” which is according to Cambridge dictionary is ” to give attention to someone or something in order to hear them”, and the word ” eight” which is according to Cambridge dictionary is “the number 8”, these words’ written letters differ from their spoken sounds. This complicity makes it hard to learn the English language orthography.
Literacy is important to be learned when anyone starts to learn a new language. For English children learners, it is important to learn how to read and write in English. While they are learning the literacy of English, they may face some problems, the first one is the differences between the written letters and the spoken sounds of the words which makes the reading and writing complicated. The other problem is the irregular words, which makes the children confused to decide when they must consider the words as regular and when they must consider it as irregular. So, it will be a little difficult to learn English literacy readily. In other transparent languages, it is much easier for children to learn how to read and write because the letters and the sounds (grapheme-phoneme) are connected, so they will be able to write and read after learning the letters and their sounds, and they will not encounter the problem of the words being pronounced differently than their spelling, or the problem of regular and irregular words.
Some people did “research study of learning to read in wales”, to figure out why early reading skills develop slowly in English children learners. The research was in north Wales, some towns in this place contain both English and Welsh speakers. In Wales, there are schools for the two languages; English and Welsh, and the parents can choose freely which school they want their children to attend in. when they made a test later for the children, they notice that the children from the Welsh schools could read better than the children from the English schools because of the lack of irregular words, which makes it easier to read. (Hanley, 2010)
People nowadays, and in the past, consider literacy as a very essential and important thing. They see literacy as a way to communicate with each other when someone writes he is passing his ideas, and when another one reads he is getting what others think about. Literacy also is a way to improve the people abilities and skills, when someone reads he is improving and learning new things which will improve his personality and his way of thinking. For children, reading and writing will improve their communication skills and personalities.
In short, the English writing system is a system uses the written letters (grapheme) to represent the spoken sounds (phoneme). It is a complicated system because of the differences between the sounds and letters because in English there are 44 sounds for only 26 letters. The complicity also is because of the irregular words, which are the words that have been brought from other languages or still used from the old English. There are advantage and disadvantage of this system, the advantage is that the English speakers can understand the meaning of the words from the different words, even when the pronunciation is the same as the word “night” and the word “knight”. While the disadvantage of this system is there are some words that we cannot expect their spelling from their pronunciation like the word “listen”. Literacy nowadays is very important, although there is some complicity while learning it, it still very essential.