Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dr. Thimothy Shanahan’s blog post on Phonics (Part 3)



Here is a comment by another reader of Shanahan's blog:

Debbie Hepplewhite
Jul 24, 2017 06:45 AM
Hi Tim,

I wonder if Luqman Michel was actually referring to the pronunciation of letters with an added "uh" which can be misleading rather than suggesting it is 'phonics' as such that is causing the problem?

I've watched part of the video and note that the pronunciation of phonemes as beginning sounds in words is not that great.

Instead of saying /k/, for example, the narrator/singer says /k+u/. Instead of /s/, /s+u/, instead of /m/, /m+u/ and so on.

Luqman Michel
Jul 25, 2017 09:22 AM
Thank you Debbie that is what is causing kids to be confused and thus disengage from further reading. Why won't a kid (prone to shutting down) shut down when he is taught buh/air/luh/luh is ball; or cuh/oh/tuh is coat?

I have been doing my own research on this since a friend asked me to teach his 'dyslexic' child in 2004. This kid could read well in Malay and romanised Mandarin which both uses the same 26 alphabets as does the English language.

I quit my job and decided to study more such children and have taught about 50 shut-down kids. All the kids I have taught can read well in Malay and those who go to Chinese schools can read in romanised Mandarin and yet could not read in English.

I then slowly began to realise that these kids had shut-down from reading in English because they had been confused by what the teachers had taught them.

There are two matters that I know which cause the confusion:
1. Adding vowel sounds to consonants. Please read a post in my blog where I have explained an actual incidence.
You can find it here:

2. Not telling kids upfront that alphabets in the English language have more than one sound. Teachers teach 'a' is for apple; 'b' is for bed, 'c' is for cat and so on. All children learn this with ease.

Soon after that the teacher teaches sound of 'a' that is different from what they have been taught for example: 'a' as in arm; 'a' as in ace; 'a' as in also; 'a' as in around.

A majority of kids have no problem learning but about 20 percent of kids who are predisposed to shutting down do indeed shut down/disengage from reading. These are the kids referred to by Ms. Nancy Hennessy when she said " ……even if we settle on a middle number, let us say 10%; that still leaves a lot of children who are not dyslexic, whose brains are not wired any different way, who have reading difficulty."

Dr. I have studied these kids on a one on one basis and am convinced if they are taught alphabet sounds correctly and also informed at the onset that alphabets have more than one sound (including consonants) a majority of kids will not shut -down.

This year I took in 2 students who could not read a single sentence in English despite having been in kindergarten for 2 years. I managed to get them to grade level and weaned them in less than 4 months of one hour 3 times a week lessons.

I wrote in my blog about one of these kids when I started to teach her and said that I will be able to get her to read within 4 months and I did. A simple test devised to find out shut-down kids gave me that confidence.

You may read all about what I know in my blog 

Please let us continue with this discussion. Feel free to grill me on this subject.
Wish you well.
Luqman Michel
Jul 25, 2017 11:28 AM
Please listen to this video. Just listen to the first word 'all'.


Please ensure it is 'Endless learner Full level 1'. The link keeps changing.

Surely - air-luh-luh can't amount to 'all'. If this does not confuse the kids prone to shutting down to shut down then nothing will.

Buh/air/luh/luh for ball is further down the same video.

Here is another video from down under which is just as confusing to kids who are prone to shutting down.


You can hear it under skill 2 between minutes 1.48 and 3.05 in the video.

Children in many schools in UK, Australia, NZ and US are taught phonemes this way and then millions of dollars are spent on intervention.

If phonics is taught the way it should be (per Dr. David Kilpatrick's Books) then I bet the number of kids leaving school as illiterates will be reduced drastically.

When you add vowel sounds to consonants you confuse kids who end up shutting down.

No comments: