Is this a spelling “rule” you recall from your childhood? It’s one that many of us can rattle off, but perhaps you’d be interested to know that there’s more to it…

It’s not just “i before e”, with a whole lot of exceptions. The full rule is:


i before e except after c, where the sound is ee
      • <ei> is a phonogram for long /ā/ (eight), along with <ey> (they), that is, it makes a different sound to <ie>
      • English is not a pure language and has many words from other languages.  Many of the ei, ie words are Old French or Old English or Norse.  There was a revision of the spelling of these words in the 17th Century.
This is why at Smart Achievers we teach:
      1. phonics – sounds in a word and the letters that may represent a sound
      2. rules – that govern the use of letters in words
      3. etymology -the history of a word or sound
      4. morphology – the units of meaning in a word
Otherwise, your child will have to over-rely on just memorizing words, thousands of them.

If they learn using the above four areas then English becomes fascinating and incorporates a lot of history. Personally, I think these mugs should be binned as they can imply that English is random and crazy and it isn’t.

Go the extra mile and think about the spelling of a word. It will pay off.
– Julie

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