Foreman and Foreman introduce us to two different approaches to spelling- the learning view and the acquisition view (p. 129-131). I would say that I’m somewhere in the middle of the two.
I do teach spelling in “a consistent and systematic way” by concentrating on teaching spelling patterns and letter arrangements that will help students develop the sounds and understanding of the order of letters that make up words in the best way possible (not a perfect way for sure.) I also believe that true spelling is best used and practiced in authentic, meaningful writing which is more closely aligned with the acquisition view.
No matter what approach a teacher takes in regards to spelling. There are some words in the English language that are downright strange in terms of letters and the sounds they make, and I might classify some of them as evil even for English language learners. I’ve heard these types of words also called ‘tricky words.’
We learned in class that words that are spelled like V – C – e often make the long vowel sound. So the vowels in words like place, write, and tone all make the sound of the name of the letter, the long sound.
Later that day…
“What is this continent called?” I asked.
“Ummm, is that Europe?” Lukundo answered.
“Ok, how do we spell Europe?”
Lukundo tried, “E-U..” He knew that Europe started with an E and U and not a Y. He continued, “R-U-P.” Lukundo’s attempt at transferring the sounds into letters made a lot of sense. Those letters could make those sounds. I wrote the correct spelling on the board and explained that here Europe is spelled E-U-R-O-P-E.
In this word, the V-C-e pattern does not make a long vowel sound, at least not in my Midwestern American accent. I went on to explain that not all words follow the pattern, but knowing V-C-e gives us a really great tactic for spelling and reading the word correctly.
Why is Europe spelled like this?
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, Europe comes from the latin, Europa. If you listen to the word pronounced it sounds like /jʊˈɹoʊpə/ which follows the pattern of having the o make a long vowel sound. So maybe the spelling does make sense at a certain point in history in a certain part of the world.