My son has workbooks to use for reading and writing activities. Usually he relies on me to explain or just figures out what to do based on previous activities. But lately he has been paying a little more attention to the instructions (clearly he does not take after his father!). This means he is learning more organic vocabulary (yay!).
It also means that he has learned the word "color" - a lovely, useful word that is both verb and noun. But to me, as well as my Canuck and Commonwealth comrades, it's spelled wrong. Where's the U?
When I bought workbooks for him and his sister I wasn't thinking about the spelling issue. I was wondering if they would be a complete waste of money, as these were sight unseen off the internet. I was wondering if I was pushing him too much. I was prevaricating over whether or not I am in any way qualified to teach my kids an afterschool programme. I wasn't thinking about spelling.
But now I am worrying. I found a bunch of Canadian workbooks (also off the internet, may be total crap) which should use Canadian spelling, or at least I expect so! Do I order these and dump the old texts, use them simultaneously, or just keep on trucking along with American spellings?
The U probably doesn't seem like much. Just an extraneous letter in the words colour, honour, and behaviour. But that's not where Canadian spelling ends. We also have doughnuts, cheques, discs, and pyjamas. We finalise contracts. When you colour ash, it's grey, not gray. Also, it's the centre of town to which you travelled, to get the beautician to dye your brunette hair to blonde.
It's not always the Brits we ape. We have tires instead of tyres and we plow our canola fields after going to the orthopedic surgeon.
We are our own country, taking from the French, the Brits, and the Americans (and yes, that is an Oxford comma, thank you).
These things might not matter to the rest of the world, but it is important to our identity. It makes us fit the Canadian mould. It's nice that I can figure out who is Canadian on an internet board from their writing style.
It's important to me that my kids understand where they come from. That's the point of this blog, really, for me to get in touch with my Canadianity and pass it on to my kids. Spelling and grammar are definitely a part of that.
But is it worth it? They will have to go to school in Japan and attend English classes with their classmates. The teachers will mark them down for non-American spellings. The books they read in English will mostly have American spellings. Even two of my Harry Potter books are the American editions. It's not as if it is hard to switch between the different spellings of each country, anyway. I can do it for my clients when required, and goodness knows my kids are smarter than I. So why do I need to press them to learn it all now?
I wonder if this happens with other languages. Do Swiss expats have trouble when all they can find are workbooks from Germany for their kids? Or is this just a typically Canadian problem?
I still don't know what to do. I'm going to order a couple of the workbooks just to see what they are like. I'm hoping there is more CanCon than just spellings. Loonies and toonies and kids riding yellow buses on field trips from Medicine Hat to the Badlands. That's the sort of knowledge they'll need when they visit, and also what will give them context for their language studies. But the spelling? I guess I'll have to eenie meenie that, until I catch a beaver by the tail. Unless you can tell me what to do!