On the spelling of en, em, on, om in Polish and foreign words. Old rules, new doubts
The spelling of en, em, on, om in Polish and foreign words before the suffixes -ka and -ko continues to cause problems — perhaps because a wrong teaching method is employed. In order to see that we need to perform two tasks: demonstrate that the spelling dictionary rule is insufficient and that in teaching it is better to draw on word formation concepts: word family, derivative, stem. The author analyses the spelling dictionary rule and provides examples. The analysis is supported with analyses of the spelling of words including en, em, on and om carried out by a teacher of Polish at school and by the author among university students of Polish.
The results: what fails is the reliance on the sense of nativeness or foreignness — some pupils have an inaccurate or false sense; the pronunciation of both native and foreign words does not correspond to the pronunciation norm; the spelling deviates from dictionary rules; the methodology of teaching too often is limited to defining the rule and attempting to apply it mechanically.
The results and the discussion make it possible to consider the preliminary assumptions to be legitimate. What is approached differently from the current practice is, especially, the spelling of en, em, on and om in native words: the information that we write them before -ka and -ko is not enough; we need an explanation that in words like ochronka we use on, because on appears in the basic word ochrona and in words like ochronny, ochronek and ochroniarz deriving from it.
The article ends with the author’s call to place such explanations, needed in the teaching of spelling, in spelling dictionaries.